On July 13, 2020 Mayor Patterson-Howard was joined by our local, county, state and federal elected representatives, clergy and NYSNA to speak with CEO Dr. Philip Ozuah of Montefiore Health Systems. During the call each stakeholder laid out the ways to save and transform Mount Vernon Hospital. Dr. Ozuah noted that there are no plans to close Mount Vernon Hospital and that he’s willing to re-imagine healthcare within the city. He also reiterated that he’s not tethered to the original plan to close the hospital, which was scheduled to close on June 30, 2020.
This decision was made prior to Dr. Ozuah coming on as CEO of Montefiore Health Systems. Additionally, he spoke about the decision around ICU beds being closed and communicating the message clearly to staff and the community. He explained the difficulties Montefiore has had with engaging the community and utilizing the hospital, along with global concerns around Medicaid and Medicare for hospital care and the diminished use of hospital beds across the country. Dr. Ozuah showed interest in finding new healthcare models that could support Mount Vernon Hospital and deliver first- class healthcare for residents.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard outlined a progressive vision for keeping the hospital open which entailed working with the broad coalition of elected, community members, unions and clergy and redefining the way healthcare is delivered in Mount Vernon. Senators Jamaal T. Bailey and Alessandra Biaggi unveiled their plan to push forth Senate bill S8321
to prevent the closure of hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic for at least three years, which has support from Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow. Congressman Eliot Engel also joined the call and committed to providing federal resources to help with improving the hospital.
County Legislator Lyndon Williams inquired about the economic studies conducted by Montefiore on the healthcare payer mix of Mount Vernon residents. Council-members Lisa Copeland and Marcus
Griffith spoke about the positive impact the hospital will have on the economic growth of Mount Vernon. Furthermore, City Council President Copeland mentioned including the school district in future conversations ensuring sufficient healthcare is provided to thousands of children who need that assistance.
The New York Nurses Association (NYSNA) called for the restoration of critical care services, including equipment and staffing. Reverend Stephen Pogue mentioned that community members would utilize the hospital if the services were available. He further highlighted the challenges of residents’ face travelling out of the city and the burden on the families of Mount Vernon. Mayor Patterson-Howard said “This is not the time for divestment, but investment into our community, especially our Hospital. We must re-imagine, redefine and restore Mount Vernon Hospital and deliver first class services to our community. I remain committed to working with Dr. Ozuah and our stakeholders to keep the facility open and to improve it.
Finance & Planning Chair, Councilman Marcus A. Griffith said, “We are excited and looking forward to NYS Comptroller DiNapoli coming in to assess our financial situation. We have had increased difficulties working with our City Comptroller to get an accurate view of our financials. As
chair of Finance and Planning for the City Council we look forward to assisting the auditors with moving this process along”.