Montefiore Hospital System is set to close a primary care center in the Bronx and open a boutique clinic in Manhattan.
Healthcare workers are fighting back. We need a healthcare system controlled by workers and patients — not bosses.
NOTE: #Handsofffhc #Savefhc #Patientsbeforeprofit
We are a group of patients, community members, community organization representatives, medical students, residents, and attending physicians.
Join us as we demand the following from Montefiore:
- Invest NOT divest: Expand clinics – no closure or displacement of local facilities.
- Transparency: Stop any plans that advance the closure or relocation of any neighborhood clinic – any decisions around Family Health Center MUST involve community members.
- Meet with patients, community members, and allies, immediately.
We share our collective disappointment and anger at Montefiore’s decision to close the Family Health Center (FHC) at 1 Fordham Plaza, while relocating the patients and providers to the Williamsbridge Family Practice clinic. Williamsbridge is 2.5 miles from Fordham – this severely impacts accessibility for patients, especially those who are elderly, prenatal women, and mothers with young children. Closing FHC also means loss of crucial health programs that have been catered to the community as well as potential overcapacity at Williamsbridge, leading to staff layoffs. Family Health Center has been in the community for over 30 years, establishing indispensable provider and patient relationships that have formed over decades. Closure of FHC will disrupt these services, catastrophic for the well-being of the entire community.
We call on the Montefiore leadership to honor their mission statement and commitment, and demand they keep the Family Health Center open, preserving current patients and providers relationships.
FHC PROTECTS THE LIVELIHOOD OF BRONX RESIDENTS:
FHC is a federally qualified health center that has provided a unique and critical service for the local Bronx community for decades. These services include primary care for all ages, prenatal care, comprehensive reproductive services, procedural services, mental healthcare, and many more. FHC also provides support and care for systemically marginalized populations in the Bronx, including people living with HIV, people experiencing substance use disorders, those of transgender experience, and those who are uninsured or underinsured.
CLOSING FHC IS CONTRADICTORY TO MONTEFIORE’S VALUES:
Closing FHC will have a catastrophic effect on the health and well-being of the local community. ****It would exacerbate health disparities in communities that Montefiore claims to serve. Montefiore’s mission statement claims to be “committed to offering access to vital programs and exceptional care to all patients regardless of social or economic status, ethnicity, creed, gender, and sexual orientation,” while the Bronx has the second lowest life expectancy in NYS and has been ranked the least healthy county in New York (Lowest 0%-25%) consistently for over 10 years.
MONTEFIORE’S HISTORY OF EXPLOITATIVE ACTIONS:
The decision to close FHC and replace the clinic with a separate clinic that does not provide the same services was done without any involvement of providers, staff, patients, nor the communities the Family Health Center serves. This harkens back to an era of paternalism and racism in healthcare, and the history of health centers making money off low-income marginalized communities and abandoning them once it becomes politically and financially feasible.
Further highlighting this inequity is a recent posting for physicians to apply to a Montefiore “Executive Medicine” concierge clinic in a “new state of the art 10,000 sq ft building” in Manhattan. We cannot help but feel confused as to how this will build on Montefiore’s commitment to health equity in the Bronx and doubt the integrity of the statement.
CLOSING FHC WILL END QUEER, BLACK, BROWN, AND ASIAN LIVES:
On a community level, FHC provides crucial mental health services, specifically to the predominant Southeast Asian refugee population focused in the Fordham area. If Montefiore chooses to proceed with the planned FHC closure and forced patient relocation plan, thousands of patients will become disenfranchised, losing critical health care services and support at a time when access to healthcare services is being threatened across the country, and during a pandemic where the Bronx community saw some of the highest rates of morbidity and mortality in the country.
Montefiore Hospital System is set to close its Family Health Center (FHC) at 1 Fordham Plaza which has provided primary care to a community in the Bronx for over 30 years. At the same time, Montefiore is slated to open a large, upscale primary care clinic for wealthy patients living around Hudson Yards. This is healthcare under capitalism: shut down primary care in poor areas serving patients of color and instead open more profitable centers in wealthy areas serving predominantly white patients.
The FHC has been providing primary care services to over tens of thousands of low-income residents in the surrounding community, most of whom are Black and Brown/Latinx. The center also is one of the primary training locations of the Family Medicine department’s Family and Social Medicine Residency outpatient training program. Montefiore claims it is just “relocating” the clinic to a surrounding site over 2.5 miles away, but the hospital system has tried to keep this information under wraps — they know there is no space where they are relocating. In reality, they are shutting down the primary care clinic and replacing it with a more profitable, non-teaching internal medicine practice and pediatrics primary care clinic.
This decision comes after Montefiore’s corporate leadership hired McKinsey & Company (the company that advised Purdue Pharma around how to “turbocharge” opioid sales and helped fuel the opioid crisis) to make recommendations for increasing profits. The shutdown is part of a new plan to close clinics in areas like the Bronx and consolidate them.
While Montefiore shuts down primary care clinics in the Bronx, the hospital is rushing to open them for the wealthy in Hudson Yards in Manhattan. A recent job listing on their website boasts that “this brand new, state-of-the-art 10,000 square foot office offers 12 examination rooms, X-ray and ultrasound services and a fully experienced staff.” So, Montefiore has the finances to expand services into Hudson Yards, but peculiarly has to shut down one of its largest primary care centers in the Bronx.
Under capitalism, hospital systems like Montefiore throughout the U.S. continually try to find ways to shut down centers of care that are deemed “less profitable” and instead open centers that will make more money. This is part of a process of finding ways to extract the greatest monetary value from bodies and communities damaged by capitalism. At the same time, this creates more disjointed and poorer care overall for the most marginalized patients. It’s no surprise that under this racist economic system, the patients most harmed are Black and Brown patients of color.
Montefiore’s recent plan is not exclusive to this hospital system. The decision comes at a time when Kings County Hospital failed in its attempt to close its gynecology service which provided care to predominantly women of color in Brooklyn.
And let’s be clear: this is happening in a city and state where Democrats hold office. These are the same Democrats who pretend to care about public health, yet are letting primary care clinics that provide healthcare to tens of thousands to be shut down by hospital systems like Montefiore that, for all their flowery language about community, always put their bottom line over health and life. This is healthcare under capitalism.
Montefiore’s actions also come at a time when New York City is actively closing its public Covid testing sites, even as highly contagious variants spread. It comes at a time when not just the New York City state government, but the federal government and healthcare system more generally, are completely failing to address the ongoing spread of Monkeypox. If we had a healthcare system in the U.S. that actually prioritized health and well being, we would be opening more and better centers for primary care, not closing them down.
Healthcare workers and community members must fight back against this plan and demand that FHC remain a primary care center for patients in the Bronx community. At Kings County, the only reason the attempt was thwarted was because of healthcare-worker and community resistance. As a result, the hospital not only kept the department, but hired a new gynecologist. Similar resistance from healthcare workers and community members can help fight Montefiore’s plans.
The community has already started to organize, recently releasing a petition about the planned closing, along with a toolkit about how to get involved called the #SaveFHC Toolkit.
Whether it is Montefiore trying to shut down primary care clinics for poor residents of the Bronx, Kings County trying to cut gynecology programs for poor people in Brooklyn, or healthcare systems continually failing to meet community needs, these instances only underscore how broken healthcare is under capitalism. Healthcare workers and patients must make the decisions about how the healthcare system runs, not corporate hospital executives or capitalist politicians.