As Montefiore Medical Center plans for a fall relocation of its Grand Concourse practice to Fordham Plaza — and a supplemental move of its family and social medicine providers from Fordham Plaza to Williamsbridge — patients and area providers are concerned these changes are the tip of the iceberg for the health network’s reshuffling of its Bronx infrastructure.
Officials from the medical network told the Bronx Times the move will not disrupt patient care or result in a loss of jobs.
However, rumor and speculation that Montefiore is closing its Family Health Center, located at a busy 1 Fordham Plaza — in addition to expanding its primary care and women’s health services into a state-of-the-art 10,000-square-foot office space in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, according to a recent Montefiore job listing — are a prime concern for patients who believe the Bronx will start losing key medical services from Montefiore in the months and years ahead.
When asked by the Bronx Times if there are plans in place to close the Family Health Center, Montefiore officials denied such plans.
“The Family Health Center is not closing and will continue to offer its full complement of health care services to the community including primary care, family planning, addiction medicine and HIV care,” said Dr. Andrew Racine, Montefiore Medical System’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.
The fear for many is that what’s being referred to as a relocation of services will eventually lead to a shutdown of Bronx services in low-income locales, patients, providers and staff members within the Montefiore Medical Center told the Bronx Times.
Montefiore Medical Center’s health system consists of 15 hospitals as well as a primary and specialty care network of more than 180 locations across Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley and the Bronx.
To accommodate the fall relocation, Montefiore officials said they will offer free shuttle services from its Fordham Plaza location to its Williamsbridge location, where the health system’s family and social medicine trainees will be integrated.
The relocation of the Grand Concourse practice, Montefiore officials said, will enhance access and availability of care at their Fordham location despite estimates of a 2-mile commute for Grand Concourse patients.
But patients of the Grand Concourse Montefiore Medical Group and Bronx area providers told the Bronx Times they only found out about the relocation when they saw an online petition claiming closure of the Family Health Center at 1 Fordham Plaza, citing a lack of transparency on Montefiore’s end.
In July, Montefiore Health System administrators told staff in a closed-doors meeting about the plans, which received internal pushback, according to meeting attendees in accounts to the Bronx Times.
“I found out about this from the internet,” said Ivelyse Andino, founder and CEO of Radical Health. “In fact, I found out about this, from the outrage online, and in my case from some of the physicians who practice. This is the perfect example of where the community’s often last to know.”
Montefiore’s Grand Concourse and Fordham area patients, as well as area providers are concerned that Montefiore’s musical chair of services is antithetical to its mission of providing care to underserved communities in the borough. Community members said the lack of notice furthers distrust in one of the borough’s premier health providers.
“I feel lied to. I feel like we aren’t being heard, and we never had the chance to object to these plans,” said Amil Bashad, who lives three blocks from the Grand Concourse campus.
Some say distrust in Montefiore also stems from accounts of lack of workplace safety, staff disgruntlement and shortages, and decisions to hire McKinsey & Company — the company that reached agreements with 49 states because of its sales advice to pharmaceutical companies that helped fuel the nation’s recent opioid crisis — to make recommendations for increasing profits.
“Health care at this point in time really is lacking trust, and it’s hard to trust the health care system,” said Andino. “It’s hard to find good care. It’s hard to find people in places where you can get great care. When that leaves or services move away, it can really uproot people’s lives, routines and the feeling that they can get care directly in their neighborhood.”
That trust may be hard for Montefiore to regain, as some voices such as Mike Pappas, an activist and NYC-based doctor, are convinced that Montefiore’s moves ultimately will lead them to the spacious Hudson Yards eschewing Black and Latino patients for a wealthier clientele.
“Montefiore claims it is just “relocating” the clinic to a surrounding site more than 2.5 miles away, but the hospital system has tried to keep this information under wraps — they know there is no space where they are relocating,” Pappas penned in an op-ed for self-described socialist news site Left Voice.org. “In reality, they are shutting down the primary care clinic and replacing it with a more profitable, non-teaching internal medicine practice and pediatrics primary care clinic.”
Reach Robbie Sequeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes.