Community, nurses demand Montefiore reduce ED waits

Councilman Torres (2nd row, 2nd from l) joined the nurses outside Montefiore Hospital’s Westchester Square facility.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

A call for more beds and an easing of overcrowding of the Emergency Department at a local hospital is taking on an urgency.

The New York State Nurses Association held a press conference outside Montefiore Westchester Square on Monday, October 15, with community leaders and union members concerned about crowding and long wait times in Montefiore Emergency Departments describing conditions and warnings of inadequate healthcare.

Emergency room patients are frequently stored on beds placed in the hallway, sometimes for days, said community activists Mary Jane Musano of the Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association and Al D’Angelo of the Morris Park Community Association and NYSNA officials.

The nurse’s union is concerned that its members are spread too thin to provide adequate patient care at Montefiore’s EDs.

This rally came on the heels of increased scrutiny by elected officials including Senator Jamaal Bailey, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Councilman Ritchie Torres and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto about patient care at Montefiore’s Bronx ED facilities.

Bailey and Rivera proposed several solutions to improve patient care at Montefiore, including: reopening Montefiore Westchester Square as a full-service hospital, identifying potential patient rooms in all Montefiore facilities, expanding emergency service at North Central Bronx Hospital and repurposing an Ebola unit to use for emergency care.

“Our first priority is to ensure that our constituents and all Bronx residents have access to quality and safe medical care,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera.

A spokeswoman for Bailey said the senator and Rivera are working with NYSNA representatives and the Montefiore leadership to discuss possible solutions.

“Ensuring that all patients in the Bronx receive appropriate medical attention in a timely and efficient manner is a priority,” said Bailey.

Councilman Ritchie Torres, who attended the October 15 rally, said putting patients into overcrowded hallways in EDs creates an environment that can bring about more illness.

Torres, who also said he believes that Montefiore does much good, added that those concerned can call his hotline at (646) 481-8892.

Benedetto said that he supports any proposal that will enhance the care his constituents receive, noting that this matter has been a long-standing issue.

Musano added that the public deserves better, while D’Angelo said that he wants the hospital in his community to be the best.

A Montefiore spokesman said that the hospital is treating every critically ill patient immediately in its EDs, and that patients in EDs at peak periods are given the option of transferring to available beds at other Montefiore facilities.

“New Yorkers choose to come to Montefiore because we provide high-quality, compassionate, and comprehensive care—that’s why our emergency departments are busier than any other hospital in the city,” said the spokesman.

The Montefiore spokesman said that the hospital system has been working to reduce emergency department visits that could have been treated in a primary care or urgicare setting.

These comprise 16 percent of ED visits at Montefiore, and they have teamed up in a partnership with CitiMD and worked alone to expand primary care and urgicare, said the spokesman.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com.
A group with the New York State Nurses Association at a protest and press conference outside of Montefiore Westchester Square with signs and banners.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

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