WSMC celebrates second chance

(l-r) Dr. Stan Friedman, Senator Jeff Klein, Dr. Wayne Osten, Dr. Louis Rose, Dr. Rudolph Nisi, Congressman Crowley, Westchester Square Medical Center CEO Alan Kopman, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto all agree that Westchester Square Hospital is forever. - Photo Walter Pofeldt

In a gala announcement on Friday, April 18, outside of the hospital’s main entrance on Seddon Street, elected officials, hospital administration and staff all gathered to celebrate the survival of New York Westchester Square Medical Center.

WSMC chairman Rudolph Nisi, hospital president Alan Kopman, physicians, employees and grateful patients presented autographed hospital lab coats as a thank you to Congressman Joseph Crowley, Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, for their efforts in fighting a planned closure of the facility. 

According to Crowley, thanks to Congressman Charles Rangel, who worked with the other officials, the hospital at 2475 St. Raymond Avenue will now be affiliated with NY-Presbyterian hospital, a main factor in keeping WSMC open. 

The news provided great relief to an anxious staff, many of whom had been employed there for a number of years.

Hospital employee Matteo Imperati, who works in housekeeping, said everyone would’ve suffered a tremendous loss had the 17-month ordeal ended differently.

“Not only would it be difficult for us,” Imperati said, “but it would be a big loss to the community. Things are bad today, it could be difficult to get another job.”

The hospital was one of many NYS hospitals slated for closure by the Berger Commission, a group appointed by former Governor Pataki to recommend medical cost cuts.

 “We also live in this community, nearby,” said Louis Masi, who works in the hospital’s pharmacy. “We want to stay here. I, myself, have been here for 26 years.”

Many at the hospital have enjoyed a long tenure, and are optimistic in continuing in the positions they now hold.

“This is my life and my home,” said Barbara Bondi, who works in admitting. “Without the hospital here there would not be the same sense of community.”

Many employees stressed that since the facility is like a family, they treat the patients as if they were one of their own.

“When you get sick, and come here, they take very good care of the patients,” said EKG worker Joanne Tossini, whose daughter also works at WSMC. “I have been here for 43 years, and I hope to retire from this hospital.”

The elected officials on hand and hospital administration expressed optimism that the hospital would continue to service the community for many years to come.

“Families can look forward to the continued personal attention and compassion for which Westchester Square is known,” Klein said. “Individuals, in their most mortal moments, will seek comfort in the bonds of community as the nurses and doctors at the hospital administer to us, not just as patients, but as people.”

Klein, who was instrumental in saving the hospital, added that he thought the affiliation with NY-Presbyterian would be a boon to the hospital, making it an even better facility. Congressman Crowley was also thankful to all who helped save the hospital.

“I am proud that our hard work paid off, and the hospital will remain open,” Crowley said. “Thank you to Senator Klein and all my fellow Bronx public servants who joined together to keep this important resource in our community.”

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