Today’s news:

Montefiore is buying Westchester Square Medical Center

Bronx Times

Montefiore Medical Center has won top bid for the assets of Westchester Square Medical Center.

Montefiore came in with a winning bid of $15.3 million at the bankruptcy auction for the struggling hospital, which was set to close in March.

It upped its bid from $14 million after a last minute $14.4 million bid earlier this week by a group calling itself Westchester Square Medical Center Properties, reportedly a private equity firm.

The Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the bid on Thursday, Jan. 24..

The neighborhood hospital that has operated under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for nearly seven years.

Montefiore said WSMC will be renamed Montefiore Westchester Square.

“Montefiore has a longstanding commitment to its community. We want to provide vital healthcare services that are forward-thinking, coordinated and patient-centered, and in so doing, safeguard jobs and support local businesses,” said Dr. Steven Safyer, president and chief executive officer of Montefiore. “Our model is based on the belief that comprehensive and well-managed care improves patients’ overall well-being.”

He said the plan is to have a full-service emergency department, an ambulatory surgery center and, over time, comprehensive primary and specialty care services.

Montefiore is committed to preserving as many jobs as possible and will begin working closely with NYWSMC’s labor unions to identify qualified staff eligible for hire by Montefiore, he added.

“The physicians and staff at NYWSMC have maintained the highest level of professionalism at a time when the medical center was under financial stress and its future uncertain,” Dr. Safyer said. “They have sustained the warm and caring environment that has characterized this institution for many years.”

Westchester Square was founded in 1929. About half its physicians currently have privileges at Montefiore; others have the option of applying for privileges.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, is supported by $20 million in funding available under the state’s Health Efficiency and Affordability Law. Closing is expected to take place in March.

Montefiore senior vice president Susan Green-Lorenzen confirmed at Community Board 10’s Health and Human Services committee meeting the night before that state money is being used to finance the purchase.

She confirmed earlier reports that WSMC would no longer be a full-service hospital, but rather operate an emergency room and ambulatory surgery (outpatient) facility. She said that the 140-bed hospital would shrink beds to a small number for use in the emergency room, but ER patients who need to be admitted would have to be brought by ambulance to another hospital for admission.

Green-Lorenzen also said it was the state’s decision that the hospital shrink its beds and remain as an emergency room and ambulatory surgery facility.

She also said that Montefiore had asked for state approval reopening 21 beds at the nearby Einstein medical facility in Morris Park.

The bankruptcy court accepted the “most effective bid,” taking into account plans for the facility when it was purchased, said Green-Lorenzen.

Community Board 10 members, elected officials representatives, and community members have long expressed concerns about possible loss of jobs, inconvenient and costly transportation by ambulance to other hospitals, loss of community-based medical care and hospital beds.

They questioned Montefiore using WSMC as an out-patient facility when Montefiore is now building a major facility at the Hutch Metro Center a short distance away.

Green-Lorenzen said, however, that there are no plans to close WSMC once that facility opens.

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

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