|Vol. 13, No. 5
||March 9 - 22,
NCB Chiefs Make No New Concessions
By HANNAN ADELY
top official of the city's public hospital system, Luis Marcos, met
with residents and employees at St. Ann's Church last week in a meeting
organized by the Coalition to Save North Central Bronx Hospital and
the Mosholu Woodlawn South Community Coalition, but the groups made
little headway in gaining new concessions in their battle to restore
services at the facility.
Following rumors last year that the city intended to close North Central
Bronx Hospital (NCB), the groups put pressure on the city's Health
and Hospitals Corporation to return services to NCB that were consolidated
and moved to Jacobi Hospital, the other public hospital in the North
Bronx Healthcare Network.
Marcos, president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC),
which administers city hospitals, and Joe Orlando, president of the
North Bronx Healthcare Network, did not build on promises made by
Barbara Rosado, NCB's on-site administrator, at a community meeting
on Dec. 9. Rosado had announced the hiring of 10 to 20 housekeeping
staff, the opening of a Family Asthma Clinic for out-patients, and
the renovation of three operating rooms. She also said that $2 million
in state funding is being provided to NCB for out-patient treatment
of the mentally ill and that beds intended for the homeless have been
removed from the hospital.
Orlando and Marcos acknowledged the addition of clinics to the emergency
department, but appeared to retract Rosado's promise to study the
need to reinstate the pediatric and rehabilitation wards. They said
there are not enough patients to sustain an in-patient pediatric ward
due to increased competition for patients, the trend towards shorter
hospital stays, and because, according to Marcos, people are generally
"I know you're disappointed, I know you're angry," Marcos
said. "But I cannot promise you I'll open a unit."
Residents and employees said there were fewer patients because of
the department shutdowns and the hospital's fading public profile.
Councilwoman June Eisland urged the hospital's leadership to improve
its public relations. "The hospital can't have an off-putting
presentation," she said. "There are so many people living
here who don't know the services."
The community also demanded that the hospital's psychiatric unit be
reopened, and asked for the addition of an adolescent psychiatric
and medicine program, a detox program, increased staff and expanded
clinic and pharmacy hours. Marcos would not agree to those requests
Monsignor Patrick Boyle of St. Brendan's Church in Norwood urged residents
to keep a close watch on NCB. "We are trying to be vigilant about
the health services in our community," he said. "It would
be a scandal if people were not provided with the health services
West Bronx residents complained that Jacobi Hospital, located in the
east Bronx, is too out of the way. "How can I take six buses
to go to Jacobi when I have two children here?" asked one community
resident who stepped up to the microphone. "I've been going to
NCB for 26 years."
Alfred Grant, a former respiratory technician who transferred to housekeeping
after his post was cut, said, "I want my kids to be able to go
to the same hospital where I work."
Grant, who has two asthmatic children, added, "We need a fully
functioning pediatric ward. Children get hurt every day."
A chief concern among NCB employees is the lack of on-site leadership.
Employees complained that Rosado is not authorized to make significant
decisions and that all the department heads are based at Jacobi. "They
have to call Jacobi for oxygen. They have to call Jacobi for blankets,"
said Emilio Morante, president of the advocacy group Commission on
the Public's Health System, and a former executive director of NCB.
In response, Marcos and Orlando agreed to give employees schedules
of when directors are on-site at NCB.
The officials disputed community claims that NCB is the "stepchild"
of HHC. "We are spending $10, $15 million in NCB," Orlando
said. "We are not closing NCB. We are opening new programs."
But many listeners remained wary of the city's intentions for the
hospital. "These guys are puppets for [Mayor Rudolph] Giuliani,"
said NCB housekeeping employee George Pierson. "They're just
trying to calm the opposition."
Some were pleased, though, that the officials came to the community
to respond to concerns. "It keeps them on their toes," said
Alex Perzow, an NCB employee who works in patient accounting. "It
keeps the community vigilant. We would have been closed six months
ago [if we hadn't kept up the pressure]."
A representative from the state Department of Health (DOH) was also
on hand to address the potential health impact if plans to build a
filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park go forward, and she agreed
to bring the issues to the DOH commissioner's attention. Community
leaders worry that construction and operation of the plant will intensify
asthma problems in the area and want hospital chiefs to weigh those
concerns in considering NCB services.
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