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Community, nurses ponder Westchester Square Medical Center sale

Bronx Times

With its only local hospital set to close, Community Board 10 is fighting to save as many services as possible at Westchester Square Medical Center after its assets are sold at auction.

The assets of the bankrupt hospital will be auctioned in late January, with Montefiore Medical Center preparing to purchase the struggling 140-bed facility.

CB 10 has written to Dr. Steven Safyer, the president and CEO of Montefiore, asking that Montefiore representatives “enter into a dialogue,” with the community so that it can be better informed of any “transaction plans, impact on the neighborhoods, and end use for the building.”

“Since 1929, this facility has provided quality medical services in a community hospital setting,” stated John Marano, chairman of CB 10, in the letter dated Dec. 18. “The residents...have come to accept this facility as a community hospital, and are quite loyal to it.”

Montefiore confirmed in December that it is looking into purchasing the struggling facility, but would have to receive approval with the state Department of Health and also a bankruptcy court.

The state Department of Labor, the Department of Small Business Services and its Workforce 1 program - which links job seekers with employers - were also sent copies of the CB 10’s letter, said Marano.

He added that he was concerned about the 586 employees of Westchester Square Medical Center, and how many would be employed by Montefiore.

He also raised concerns about whether or not a 24-hour emergency room would continue to operate at the facility.

“I don’t want to sound like we are unhappy about Montefiore taking the hospital over, because they are a very good neighbor,” said Marano. “They have a good name in the business.”

Nurses at Westchester Square Medical Center participated in a rally outside the hospital Friday, Jan. 11, held by the New York State Nurses Association.

They went to local area stores asking merchants to place signs in their windows that read “The Bronx deserves the best care - Save Westchester Square Medical Hospital.”

The nurses’ association is also collecting petition signatures to keep Westchester Square open as a “full-service community hospital.”

Clare Hughes, who has worked at the hospital for about 30 years and was born there, said that it is imperative that WSMC stay a full-service community hospital.

“There is nothing wrong with large hospitals, they’re fine. But we provide a different type of care here,” said Hughes. “It is very hands on, and a lot of the patients who come in and we know them. If we all wanted to be in the big institutions, we would be gone by now.”

She said that for a full-service emergency department to operate at the new facility, “some beds would have to remain.”

Hughes added that if Montefiore is the winning bidder, the nurses would welcome them to the facility.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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