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Saving Pedro’s clinic

Bronx Times

With Pedro Espada’s Soundview health clinic on life support, three local organizations are now involved in talks to help step in and save it, the Bronx Times has learned.

With Espada now convicted and facing jail for stealing funds from his Soundview Health Care chain, and the state cutting off the funding spigot, the clinic has basically shut its doors for all but a few medical services and the staffs gone unpaid.

Its 20,000 clients have been forced to seek medical care at distant hospitals, while other area health care clinics have been reaching out to fill the gap.

“Obviously, this is a time of change for the clinics,” said clinic spokeswoman Rachael Fasciani. “We are in conversations with approximately three other community organizations to collaborate with us in order to keep Soundview in the community.”

Fasciani said she anticipated “that as those collaborations move forward there will be further changes to our network.”

She noted that the main clinic on White Plains Road and the Amadou Diallo Medical Center on Westchester Avenue are “open.”

But they are barely proving any services.

It looks as if Espada still intends to keep the clinic a family affair, putting son Alejandro in charge as senior vice president.

While other son Pedro G. Espada escaped conviction thanks to a hung jury, he and his father still face trial on tax charges in Manhattan federal court.

Meanwhile, reaction in the Soundview clinic from residents to elected officials was mixed on the future of the clinic to Espada himself.

Evelyn Castillo, a 25-year resident of Soundview, said she’s sad to see the clinic she’s grown up with take a dive.

“I have to take my kids somewhere else,” said Castillo, a stay-at-home mom who declined to talk about Espada. “I cannot judge the man.”

Oscar Ruiz, new to Soundview, said he hopes the clinic survives for the sake of the neighborhood.

“I hope it doesn’t close down, ‘cause we need the help for the kids,” said Ruiz.

Harry Miller, who gets his prescriptions at the clinic pharmacy, believes the clinic should not pay for Espada’s crimes.

“Espada should be dealt with, but they shouldn’t close the clinic down for the neighborhood,” said Miller.

On the political front, local Councilwoman Annabel Palma is glad to see Espada guilty, saying “Justice has finally been served.”

But she also fears for the future of the clinic and local healthcare services, saying her office is continuing to explore “backup options.”

Clinic spokeswoman Fasciani, meanwhile said clinic lawyers have officially filed court papers against the state Department of Health demanding the agency pay $300,000 they claim is past due to the clinic for over a year now.

She, like Espada, believe the withholding of funds is part of a “political vendetta” against Espada.

“It’s the patients who suffer,” said Fasciani.

Reach reporter David Cruz 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

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