Protest held outside Mount Vernon Hospital after ICU closed, nurses laid off

MOUNT VERNON, New York (WABC) -- A rally was held outside a hospital in New York Wednesday after its intensive care unit was shut down and nurses were laid off.

Nurses and elected officials rallied outside of Mount Vernon Hospital, protesting the closure of its intensive care unit and the laying off of 18 nurses during the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is a violent, and a racist action that cannot continue to stand," Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said.

Montefiore Health System took over operations in 2017.

Last year they announced plans to close the 121-bed hospital and build a $41 million emergency and ambulatory care facility about a mile away.

Patients needing surgery or requiring admission would have to go to Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital.

But services ramped up during the coronavirus outbreak.

Mount Vernon has had the second highest number of cases in Westchester County.

"Why take away the hospital after COVID?" ICU nurse Kameisha Brown said. "This is just the first wave. What's going to happen if another wave hits? People are going to die."

In a statement, Montefiore says Mount Vernon hospital "is open, serving the community and no closure plan has been submitted to the state. The reductions in staffing are a direct reflection of the underutilization of this hospital by the community."

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