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Westchester Square Hospital merger talk welcomed

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St. Barnabas Hospital is engaging in a dialogue with Westchester Square Medical Center about a possible merger.

While the community appears excited about the prospect of this happening, some believe that in the current economic climate, a merger may be a real long shot.

“We are all very excited to be told that St. Barnabas Hospital will probably take over Westchester Square Medical Center,” said community board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns. “St. Barnabas Hospital is over 100-years old. St. Barnabas is a well-established and respected hospital. It will provide the same kind of quality health care at that location.”

Kearns said that if St. Barnabas, located at 4422 Third Avenue, takes over the hospital, it would still be used as some kind of medical facility.

Community Board 10’s economic development committee chairman Jim McQuade was cautiously optimistic about the survival of Westchester Square Medical Center. McQuade sits on an advisory board at Albert Einstein Medical Center.

“I have my doubts because with the stimulus package and the New York State budget being what it is, I don’t see a lot of money filtering down to healthcare,” McQuade said. “I have seen hospital after hospital pass up the Square. I don’t want to get people’s hopes up.”

McQuade said that Einstein’s emergency room is operating at 110% capacity. He also said all are concerned about having only Einstein and Jacobi Medical Center serving a large part of the east Bronx.

“The Square’s hospital has a great emergency room,” McQuade said. “I want Westchester Square Medical Center to stay open because it will help people in the community keep their jobs.”

McQuade said that he hopes that Senator Jeff Klein can save the facility.

“I have a lot of faith in Senator Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca,” McQuade said. “What I don’t have a lot of faith in is our present governor fully understanding the needs of this community when it comes to healthcare.”

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