On July 8, 2020 Nurses, joined by community advocates, elected officials and religious leaders, rallied to protest the shutdown last week of the Intensive Care Units at Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital (“MMV”). The closure and dismantling of ICUs, as well as Telemetry Units, and an end of limiting admissions to the Medical/Surgery Unit leaves the largely African American population that counted on the hospital highly vulnerable.
The closures come as the fate of Metro NYC in a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus is in doubt. More than 2,700 Mount Vernon residents have already contracted COVID-19 and 1,410 residents of Westchester County have lost their lives. Nurses are among many voices demanding that every
available resource be afforded the people of Mount Vernon in the face of the deadly virus. In fact, during the pandemic MMV was at capacity for COVID-19 patients and some were transferred to other facilities where they were kept in hallways and closets.
Yet the parent company, Montefiore Medical Center, which across all divisions posted total revenue of $6.2 billion last year, is determined to deny Mount Vernon critical care to fight the virus. It was this same company that promised in 2016 to expand MMV. Nurses cite another compelling reason to keep MMV open with critical care: without the hospital and critical care mortality rates are sure to go up. Those suffering heart attacks, strokes, serious accidents and other life-threatening events must go elsewhere, adding precious time to their emergencies, and
ultimately raising the city’s death rate.
Nurses estimate that deaths from heart attack are now 4-9% higher with the critical care closures atMMV. “Some of our patients need dialysis, have diabetes, or need cardiac care and are emergency cases. TheICU is essential to the community,” said MMV ICU nurse Kameisha Brown, RN. “Montefiore is ignoring us. They are just moving forward with the closure. We are a hospital of mostly Black nurses and they are not treating us fairly, not treating the community fairly. We need justice.”
“We are fighting for lives here on two fronts,” said NYSNA’s Executive Director Pat Kane, RN. “The first is to keep critical care units when the coronavirus is still very active. Second, Mount Vernon residents now need to travel to another city for serious emergencies. How many reasons do you need to keep your community hospital open?”
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said “We will not allow Montefiore to gamble with the public health and safety of our residents. Montefiore is continuing to systematically remove and shift services out of a community that they themselves reported to be medically underserved. If All Lives Matter, then Black lives should matter too, and Dr. Ozuah and the Montefiore Health System should come to the table to prevent the closure of our hospital during a pandemic. Montefiore cannot continue to use Mount
Vernon’s healthcare numbers to push resources into more wealthier communities, their actions are violent and negligent against Mount Vernon. We are calling on our state and federal elected officials to take a stand with Mount Vernon to ensure the safety and welfare of our community is a priority. Mount Vernon deserves a fully functioning, fully staffed hospital, especially in this season of COVID-19 and beyond.”