Workers Doubt Promises To Keep NCB Open
By JORDAN MOSS
Despite previous assurances that the city would not close or sell North Central Bronx Hospital, workers staged a lively rally outside the facility on Tuesday. Holding signs reading "North Central Bronx Hospital Is Not For Sale," and "Save North Central Bronx Hospital," members of Local 420 of District Council 37 said it was hard to believe the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation wasn't planning to close the hospital while NCB's administration continues to close and consolidate departments with those at Jacobi Hospital in the east Bronx.
"Once we don't have any patients, they can close us down," said Benjamin Varona, a mental health assistant at NCB for 17 years..
Local 420 president James Butler called the city's actions a "slow-motion closing of a public hospital."
Doris Cross, an assistant to Butler, said NCB administrator Joseph Orlando has been talking with staff to assure them that the hospital will stay open. "But at the same time he's removing services."
In a statement read by an aide, Councilwoman June Eisland expressed frustration that there had been no official word from HHC about its plans.
"I'm very concerned about reports that HHC is planning the demise of North Central Bronx Hospital," Eisland said. "Recent actions by the Health and Hospitals Corporation in reducing some essential services at NCB have added fuel to the fire."
A spokesman for Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Judy Farrell, said her boss "wants confirmation in writing that NCB is not for sale."
In April, a Daily News article reported that the city wanted to sell NCB to Montefiore Medical Center. However, during a public meeting with Ferrer, Orlando said that was not true.
HHC officials were not reachable at press time on Tuesday. But in the meeting earlier this month, Orlando told Ferrer, "There are no plans to close North Central Bronx Hospital."
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