Local leaders say complaints about patient care at Montefiore’s Einstein Campus have increased and these failings came to a head at a recent Community Board 11 meeting.
Several board members voiced their frustrations with Mariella Salazar, Montefiore’s government and community relations manager, at the Thursday, April 27 meeting held at the adjacent Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Board member Dom Schiano took umbrage with Salazar’s promotion of open houses for health clinics and a teddy bear hospital event, and instead asked the hospital spokesperson to engage the board about issues of importance.
Schiano complained that during a recent hospital stay his room was cut in half to accommodate two more patients, that his hospital bed was so damaged that he spent three days in a chair and that he was given socks that did not fit him, forcing him to go barefoot.
Schiano also complained about patients left in beds in the hallways for an entire day.
“(Hospital staff) who passed by just kept saying, ‘I’m very sorry to hear that,’” Schiano said. “Everyone had the same line, but nobody tried to do anything about it.”
Fellow CB11 member Al D’Angelo said the Health and Human Service Committee had been asking Montefiore to meet with them over various issues, but had become frustrated with the unwillingness of hospital executives to do so.
He said he and fellow board member Tony Signorile recently did a walkthrough at the hospital and found similar concerns that he said were unacceptable at a private hospital.
“We found people in the emergency room in the hallways with sheets barely covering them, with sick people walking past them,” Signorile said. “We went up to the (patient) floors and people were stored in the hallways. One person was there three days in the emergency room.”
D’Angelo said nearby Jacobi Medical Center, a public hospital, was cleaner and provided better care, which he said was shameful.
Board member Edwin Diaz told Salazar the management had to understand that the problems had become very public, and said the board was prepared to reach out to elected officials who oversee public funding to get changes made.
“I’m very sorry you guys feel this way,” Salazar told board members. “We’ll definitely follow up with the appropriate people and follow up with the board.”
Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj was also in attendance and said he would continue to keep on the hospital about the issues mentioned.
“This has been an ongoing dilemma with no resolution. It’s been on the radar and constantly being brought up,” Gjonaj said.
However, Gjonaj acknowledged that the problems at Einstein were also found at other New York hospitals, and were partly due to reimbursement rates from Medicare, Medicaid and the unknown fate of federal healthcare services under the new Trump administration.
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto said while the hospital had made some improvements in recent years, he too had become frustrated with complaints from constituents about crowding in the emergency room.
He said while the hospital had spent millions on purchasing new facilities and advertising, not enough had been spent on educating the public about other clinics and other facilities the public can use instead of clogging the Einstein emergency room.
“Outside of visiting community groups and printing up some pamphlets, that’s all they’ve done,” Benedetto said. “We’ve asked them to put some commercials on TV, but they said they didn’t have the finances. So I’m outraged when I see all their commercials on TV touting what great service they provide.”
Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Community Advisory Council for Einstein Hospital had been disbanded, when in fact the Einstein College of Medicine’s advisory council had been disbanded. The hospital’s advisory council still meets monthly. We regret the error.