With its patient numbers increasing, Montefiore Westchester Square is reaching out to the local Zerega community.
It held the first of a planned number of Community Forums on Thursday, Jan. 16 to gather community feedback on the state’s first free-standing Emergency Department and an ambulatory care center.
Montefiore bought the assets of the struggling Westchester Square Medical Center and opened MWS there in March 2013.
At the time, Montefiore was viewed as a savior by some, but others were concerned about losing a full service local hospital. Montefiore stressed at the time that health care is about more than just hospital beds.
“Increasingly, the world of healthcare is changing and things don’t look the way they used to look,” Lynn Richmond, Montefiore chief-of-staff, said at the meeting. “And we are privileged to be here and be in this community as part of a larger system of care.”
Montefiore Vice President Dr. Peter Semczuk presented an array of stats that show the facility serving growing numbers of healthcare consumers.
Since the reopening through the end of 2013, the facility saw 4,315 patients for ambulatory surgery, with 6,000 expected for 2014. Some 879 patients were transported from it to other Montefiore facilities in that time.
Monte spokeswoman Brette Peyton attributed a steady rise in the number of emergency department visits to “quality care and efficient service.”
Peyton said MWS had been inspected by the Joint Commission (which accredits health care facilities nationwide), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the state Department of Health. MWS works closely with the FDNY and other highly scrutinized agencies, added Semczuk.
One concern raised by facility neighbors was pollution caused by idling ambulances and a goose neck pipe from the MWS generator which faces adjacent homes on St. Peter’s Avenue.
An MWS engineer pledged to address the concerns about the pipe by March, and Semczuk said that devices could be installed on the of ambulance exhaust pipes to help alleviate any pollution.
Zerega activist Hannah Acampora had only words of encouragement from the community: “We are happy to see all the improvements in the year, and we wish them much success.”
Some attendees were griped that MWS did not provide enough advance notice about the forum, including local community activist Lou Rocco, who said he went door-to-door to inform the community.
“Flyers were distributed one week prior to the meeting to the local community board, as well as community groups and faith-based institutions in the area,” said Peyton. “The same flyer also was distributed and posted around the Westchester Square campus.”