There is an old saying within socio-political circles called “Racism by Zip code” — a type of social engineering on Black communities weaponizing the social ills in the Black community against itself. These neighborhoods are discriminating against by denying them equal access to safe communities, good schools, and resources to advance.
With a population of over 70,000, it is no secret that Mount Vernon is a predominately populated city of people of color. It is also no secret in the medical community that Black People lead all other ethnic groups in chronic health and deadly diseases.
According to national health Stats:
• Diabetes is 60% more common in black Americans than in white Americans. Blacks are up to 2.5 times more likely to suffer a limb amputation and up to 5.6 times more likely to suffer kidney disease than other people with diabetes.
• African-Americans are three times more likely to die of asthma than white Americans.
• Deaths from lung scarring — sarcoidosis — are 16 times more common among blacks than among whites. ‘=
• Despite lower tobacco exposure, black men are 50% more likely than white men to get lung cancer.
• Strokes kill four times more 35- to 54-year-old black Americans than white Americans. Blacks have nearly twice the first-time stroke risk of whites.
• Blacks develop high blood pressure earlier in life — and with much higher blood pressure levels — than whites. Nearly 42% of black men and more than 45% of black women aged 20 and older have high blood pressure.
• Cancer treatment is equally successful for all races. Yet black men have a 40% higher cancer death rate than white men. African-American women have a 20% higher cancer death rate than white women.
In an article in the US News, Dr. Brian Smedley, a health policy expert at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, said the poor and underserved rural communities, where people are less likely to have quality health insurance, are more likely to suffer.
“Unfortunately, health care remains a commodity that’s bought and sold on the open market,” and hospitals largely decide what the market will bear,” Smedley said.
The current 121-bed hospital is a high-level trauma center. That is capable of treating gunshot wounds, excessive bleeding, and heart attacks will be all but forgotten at the end of 2020. The new facility that is purposed will not be a high-level trauma center and cannot treat gunshot wounds, excessive bleeding, or conditions that require immediate intervention. The new emergency facility can only detect and monitor a heart event but incapable of doing more.
It is uncanny, that while Montefiore boasts about expanding its reach into other communities, it is shortchanging the people of Mount Vernon.
For the state to allow the decommissioning of all 121 hospital beds is an unwise strategy in case of a public health and safety crisis. It is a short-sighted strategy that could become deadly if we experience a terrible flu season. It is especially unthoughtful as Mount Vernon’s senior population expands.
The decommissioning will also put an added burden to the city’s emergency services; fire and police in having to transport high trauma subjects outside of the city for emergency treatment. These departments are already overburdened, it’s now more added stress to an already overworked workforce.
When Montefiore Hospital entered the Mount Vernon market in 2013, they knew then that the hospital was in debt partially attributed to the fact that many Mount Vernon residents do not have insurance and don’t have the ability to pay for healthcare as well as the fact that hospital reimbursements have reduced. They knew the landscape of the city coming in, so why close the hospital know?
Our sources have told us that Montefiore had no intentions in building the Mount Vernon Hospitals like they have done in neighboring white communities hospitals and outsourced the most profitable patient services to other area hospitals. We was also told that in a recent forensic audit discovered 15 separate sets of books were kept to conceal their financial wheeling and dealing
Hospital consolidations, capitalistic healthcare business models along with underlying racism is another level for the fight of equality and justice.
In other communities (white communities), hospitals are essential allies and stakeholders in helping the city to address some of the underlying issues that impact community health. Besides access to hospital care, such as healthy behaviors, environmental and socioeconomic factors, hospitals usually bring jobs and jobs help the economic development of the city. Why wasn’t this the case in Mount Vernon? Instead of expanding the hospital with more services, Montefiore downsized with more cuts to services.
Again, our politicians local, county, and state our not being honest with the people of Mount Vernon. The closing of the Mount Vernon hospital is nothing new. This has been talked about this since Mayor Clinton Young was in office. The tragedy is that none of our leaders since 2013 had or has no plan to make sure that 70,000 residents in Mount Vernon adequate access to emergency services and medical treatment.
The New York State Department of Health must approve the plan. Mount Vernon residents hope that our elected representatives in Albany will oppose the plan to close our hospital for what essentially is an urgent care center and a clinic. The people of Mount Vernon should not tolerate this unfair substitute.
We have already reach out to Assemblyman Charles Barron, who is a member of the State Assembly Committee on Health. He was unaware the hospital closing in Mount Vernon. He also said that the Chairman of the committee, Assemblyman, Richard N. Gottfried was unaware of the closing also. The residents of Mount Vernon still have time to make noise. If your elected officials in Albany won’t fight for their district, there are other elected officials like Assemblyman Charles Barron that will.
If the Mount Vernon Hospital closes, it is a slap in the face to a city that is considered a Democratic stronghold. The same county, state, and federal officials that come for Mount Vernon for votes have been critically silent and need to be at the forefront in addressing this issue.
The residents of Mount Vernon should not let Governor Cuomo of the hook either. If the New York State Department of Health allows the decommission of the hospital. The Governor is the ONLY state official that has the power to reverse it! Unfortunately, for Mount Vernon, Governor Cuomo has turned a blind eye to Mount Vernon for the last four years, acting incoherently to the corruption, dysfunction, and lack of proper oversight by state officials. Just like many other incidents, he will be political silent on a closing of a hospital in a major city in a county that he lives in. The people needs to be accountable as well!
I hope the people will not fall for political rhetoric because it is election season. This is nothing to wait for until after November 5, or January 1, 2010. The people of Mount Vernon need every level of New State officials at the table now. Can the people of Mount Vernon have just one time that the needs of the people are before political agendas. Political agendas is what has put the city in this condition from the start.
When will Black Lives Matter to Black People? This move is an insidious form of Racism on one of the most impoverished communities in Westchester County. We shouldn’t tolerate it anymore!
Damon K. Jones
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York.
Mr. Jones is a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach.
Mr. Jones is a 32-year Law Enforcement Practioner New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 "News Makers" and Public Television "Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS at 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.