The sudden closure of the city’s North Central Bronx Hospital’s labor and delivery unit is still causing controversy.
The consolidation that shut down the services at the Norwood hospital drew a group of protestors on Wednesday, Sept. 4 outside of Jacobi Medical Center, where all the nurses and staff from the NCBH unit were moved to as of Monday, August 12.
The group, including Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, along with members of the New York State Nurses Association and the Doctors Council SEIU unions representing unit staff, denounced the lack of advance notice.
While no employee lost their job and all 580 NCB patients who were due to deliver their babies have been notified, according to the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the group nevertheless sounded the alarm that the move will affect the quality-of-care for expectant mothers and the community in the northwest Bronx.
“The nurses who came here have not had the appropriate orientation to the situation here, they haven’t had the appropriate training, after one day of orientation they are being given the patient assignments,” said NYSNA executive director Jill Furillo, “...the staffing situation is not good.”
NCBH Unit staffers were informed on Friday, August 9 of the switch and were told to report by that Monday to their new assignment at Jacobi. There were about 1,900 deliveries last year at Jacobi and 1,500 at NCBH.
Dinowitz expressed his concern that since NCBH was created in response to the closing of Fordham Hospital and others, that the closing of the unit could be the first step to the closing of other units and ultimately the closing of the hospital.
He called the unit’s departure breaking a promise made to communities in the northwest Bronx.
“This sneak attack is an example of government at its worst,” he said.
Councilman Vacca said that the City Council could hold an oversight hearing into the matter.
Jacobi labor and delivery nurse Sarita Jones, a NYSNA member, said that the changes have kept mother and babies apart from one another longer than in the past because it caused a long wait for patient beds, among other disruptions. The HHC disagrees with the protestors.
“We have suspended labor and delivery services at North Central Bronx Hospital and consolidated the services to one campus at Jacobi while safeguarding access and smooth transition for our patients,” read a HHC statement. “This was a necessary change to focus resources and ensure optimal staffing and provide the most comprehensive, safe, and efficient model of inpatient obstetrical and gynecological care for our patients.”
Community Board 7 chairwoman Adaline Walker-Santiago, who also spoke at the rally, said that she may hold a Town Hall meeting to look into the issue, and plans to address it thoroughly.
A source with knowledge of the situation who asked not to be identified, said that the move has caused not only a loss in Norwood and surrounding communities, but also created issues at Jacobi.
“It seems nuts because it’s overloaded Jacobi,” the source said of the closure.
They added that the number of births at Jacobi has now nearly doubled, while Montefiore Medical Center next to NCBH in Norwood has shifted its labor and delivery unit to Weiler Hospital on Eastchester Road just behind Jacobi, leaving the northwest Bronx without a similar working unit.