Mount Vernon Hospital workers rally to call for equality in health care
Health care workers in Mount Vernon rallied on Friday on the City Hall steps, calling the city a prime example of the racial disparities prevalent in the health care system, especially during the pandemic.
Mount Vernon Hospital nurse Bernetta Urquhart was fired up after she says she's faced a year of chronic understaffing and cuts to services.
Montefiore also closed the ICU in Mount Vernon during the pandemic, forcing critical patients to be sent to neighboring hospitals.
"Montefiore closing this ICU is hurting people every day and its dangerous to do that," said Urquhart.
The city’s sole hospital has faced looming closures before. Mount Vernon is 65% Black, densely populated and was disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Despite the disparity, the New York State Nurses Association says Montefiore invested federal, state and taxpayer dollars in White Plains Hospital instead of Mount Vernon.
"What was the criteria that Montefiore used to bolster up one hospital with a population that had many options while decapitating another?" asked NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard says community outrage led to a promise from Montefiore to add staff and reopen the hospital’s ICU.
"We need restorative justice and equity to happen now,” she says. “No more promises. We need delivery on the promises."
Montefiore responded by saying that the NYSNA has an agenda.
"Let's be honest, this report and these accusations are not about making people safer, this is all about manufacturing a fake report in order to drive a bill in Albany. It's outrageous that in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, NYSNA leaders would stoop so low, but here we are."
The NYSNA has been advocating for the Safe Staffing bill and released a 12-page report titled "Unequal Empire: How Montefiore's Expansion Reinforces Racial Disparities in Healthcare."
Full Statement from Montefiore Health System spokesperson:
“This union-commissioned and union-subsidized report is materially and ethically unsound. The accusations in this so-called report are not only dishonest and inaccurate, they also speak to the depths NYSNA union leadership is willing to sink for political gain. Let’s be honest, this report and these accusations are not about making people safer, this is all about manufacturing a fake report in order to drive a bill in Albany. It’s outrageous that in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, NYSNA leaders would stoop so low, but here we are.”