The effort to bring back the maternity ward at North Central Bronx Hospital has gotten a boost in the form of City Council funds.
Councilman Ritchie Torres announced that $600,000 was secured to assist the reopening of the labor and delivery unit at a press conference at the Norwood hospital on Wed. July 2. The allocation will fund part of a $2 million renovation to update the ward.
Torres, whose adjacent district is served by the hospital, has put pressure on the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation since the unit closed last August, and led the effort to secure the funds in the City Council budget.
But Torres is just one of many who have worked to bring the services back to North Central Bronx.
“Above all I want to thank the community, the labor unions, the community activists, the mothers who were served here at NCBH who have worked hard to reopen it,” he said. “It was your righteous outcry, it was your grassroots organizing that made this happen.”
After NCBH abruptly suspended labor and delivery services in 2013 due to staffing shortages, community advocates pressed hospital officials to reopen, and to involve the community in the process. In the past several months, the hospital has help public forums and met with the activists to assure them of plans to reopen in the fall.
“I want to thank HHC for seriously engaging the community, listening to the community, and putting together a serious plan to not only reopen the center, but staff it with senior-level professionals who will offer a higher level of care than we had before,” said Torres.
At the last public forum in June, officials announced a target date of Sept. 22 for a state inspection.
So far, progress is on schedule to meet that goal, said Hannah Nelson, a spokesperson for NCBH.
All of the nurses for the ward have been hired, she said, and they’re in the process of being trained at a higher level than before. Almost all of the doctors have been hired as well, and she said the head of the department is confident the unit will have the staff it needs to open in the fall.
The $2 million renovations will be also executed on a tight schedule to meet the goal, Nelson said, and they include an upgraded nurses’ station, a patient-nurse communication system, and new operational lights for the older ward.
“Systems and technology have all changed a lot over the years,” she said.
The flooring, lights, and paint-work are also being redone, among other improvements.
“It’ll have a new look, and it’ll give it a really nice feeling,” said Nelson.