Locals pushing on baby unit return

They want their babies back, stat!

North Bronx locals are demanding that the city provide a firm date for when labor and delivery at their nearby North Bronx Central Hospital will reopen.

The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) shuttered NBCH’s maternity wing in August, citing a dearth of senior physicians. Expectant mothers were rerouted to Jacobi Medical Center, which was overwhelmed with overcrowding and long wait lines, community members said.

In November, amid public outcry, North Bronx Central’s Vice President William Walsh announced that the hospital’s services would reopen sometime in the summer of 2014 —good news for the around 1,000 mothers who deliver there every year.

But a group of angry community members, labor unions, nurses and health advocates worry that the city’s reopening will lag behind schedule and not be of the same quality.

Rattled locals

“They haven’t told us when, they haven’t told us how, and they haven’t committed to opening it with the midwives which made this place what it was,” charged Eileen Markey, who delivered her son Hugh at the hospital four years ago and who has been active in the protest to bring back the maternity wing.

An angry group of north Bronx residents braved subfreezing temperatures Thursday Dec. 12 outside the Kossuth Avenue hospital to call for the city to get the maternity wing up and running as soon as possible.

“We know the hospital has been going through some economic problems…but we don’t want the North Central Bronx to be the sacrificial lamb,” said Fay Muir, who serves on the hospital’s community advisory board.

Unclear timeframe

North Bronx Central leadership committed at a public meeting later that day to bring the service back by April 30, said sources who attended the public hearing at Moshulu-Montefiore Community Center.

But the HHC’s official word at this point is that the city will “begin to plan” the reopening of North Bronx’s labor and delivery in 2014. They’ve brought in a new Obstetrics and Gynecology Chair, Dr. Michael Zinaman, to oversee the transition.

The North Bronx Health Network, which includes North Central Bronx Hospital and Jacobi Medical Center, is being cautious at this point because it can only open with a safe level of staffing, said a hospital spokesperson.

Hospital brass agreed at Thursday night’s hearing to meet with the community monthly to work together to address concerns about the process, Markey said.

“They need to have us involved every step of the way,” she said. “We’re ready to help in any way that we can.”

Ben Kochman can be reached via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742–3394

More from Around NYC