WSMC bought by Montefiore; layoffs expected

Workers from WSMC, seen here at the Bronx St. Patrick's Parade, could face layoffs.

Workers at Westchester Square Medical Center are nervously awaiting word whether they’ll get the ax or keep their job, with Montefiore Medical Center announcing last week that it is taking over the struggling hospital.

Some 500 workers could be affected by the takeover, most of them members of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers or New York State Nurses Association.

A letter went out to workers at the hospital on Dec. 10, stating they will find their employment with WSMC ending sometime between March 10, 2013 and March 23, 2013.

Most will be rehired by Montefiore. But it’s also likely that those rehired will not be covered under their existing union contract since WSMC is closing, not merging.

“MMC is evaluating its staffing needs across the system,” stated the letter from WSMC president and CEO Alan Kopman. “You will hear directly from MMC about job opportunities they will be making available.”

Union issues

A source familiar with the unions said that at least for the present, they do not see either union squaring off against Montefiore, which is already a union hospital.

“The union figures that some jobs are better than no jobs,” said the source.

“Montefiore is a union employer already,” they continued. “They figure it is better for Montefiore to purchase it – because some of the employees will be hired back – than to just have it go bankrupt.”

Some employees have been threatened that they would be “fired on the spot” if they are caught talking to the media, said another source.

Montefiore announced the purchase plan Dec. 12, saying WSMC filed a motion to approve an Asset Purchase Agreement on Dec. 7, 2012, with the bankruptcy court “as part of a bidding process leading to a sale.”

“Montefiore’s offer is supported with funding available under New York State’s Health Efficiency and Afford ability Law, the statement added.

Under the terms of its agreement with WSMC, Montefiore would continue to operate a similar type of facility at the St. Raymond Avenue location, providing ambulatory surgery and primary care services, and a full service emergency department, “which would ensure that the medical needs of local residents can continue to be met within the community.”

Reaction in the community was mixed, with some glad it at least appears Montefiore will be running a facility similar to WSMC.

Fears Monte monopoly

Reaction in the community was mixed, with some glad it at least appears Montefiore will be running a facility similar to WSMC.

“From the residents point, we don’t want to see our full service community hospital close,” said CB 10 member and Zerega resident Hannah Acampora. “By standing back and allowing Westchester Square Medical Center to close, you’re creating a monopoly and taking away our right of choice, and that’s not healthy.”

Montefiore has expanded dramatically in recent years, taking over other failing medical facilities and bringing a number of medical practices into its fold.

It purchased Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates in 2008.

It most recently announced plans to take several floors of a new office tower rising at the Hutch Metro Center, offering ambulatory surgery.

Montefiore has facilities at its main Moses Campus and Children’s Hospital in Norwood, as well as clinics and facilities throughout the borough.

It is affiliated with Albert Einstein College of Medicine and runs Weiler Hospital Division there. It also runs 19 clinics in Bronx public schools.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

A view of WSMC.

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