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Petition to Stop Closure of Family Health Center: Displacement and Discrimination at Montefiore

The Montefiore hospital system recently announced it plans to close its Family Health Center located at 1 Fordham Plaza. Below we are republishing a statement written by those organizing against this plan.

Left Voice

July 28, 2022
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#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:

  1. Invest NOT divest: Expand clinics – no closure or displacement of local facilities.
  2. Transparency: Stop any plans that advance the closure or relocation of any neighborhood clinic – any decisions around Family Health Center MUST involve community members.
  3. 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.

Making this decision will disinvest from the Bronx community, without which Montefiore would not exist in its current form, and to invest in other, wealthier communities, will leave Montefiore with blood on its hands and a clear statement about their true profit-driven intentions in the Bronx.

Sign our petition to honor the lives of our Bronx residents!

Read more about the history of Montefiore, FHC, and the Bronx here!

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