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Montefiore Health System Reshuffles Bronx Operations Ahead of Looming State Policies

(NEW YORK FOCUS) Maxwell Parrott, Kudrat Wadhwa, August 18, 2022

A plan to move a family medicine clinic in a low-income Bronx neighborhood has sparked backlash from patients and staff.

In a closed-door meeting in early July, Montefiore Health System administrators told staff at a highly regarded family medicine clinic it had decided to move them from their Fordham building to another location two and a half miles away.

Multiple doctors at the clinic told New York Focus the move would be disastrous for their patients, who largely come from low-income, immigrant communities. On August 5, following staff pushback and organizing efforts from community advocates, the administration walked part of the plan back in a compromise that leaves many of the clinic’s providers unsatisfied.

The relocations, which were reportedly designed in consultation with McKinsey & Co., entail a sequence of cost-cutting real estate consolidations within the health system’s Bronx facilities. Montefiore would move its Grand Concourse internal medicine clinic, also in the Fordham area, into the building that currently houses the Family Health Center, and relocate part of its operations at the family clinic to the far-flung Williamsbridge Family Health Center.

Montefiore rolled out the plan without community input ahead of the start date of two wide-reaching state health policies. Opponents say the health system is rushing to get the move done before the implementation of one of those new laws, the Health Equity Assessment Act, which could force the state to consider how the move could negatively impact its patients.

Montefiore has insisted that none of its patients will lose services in the move, and thus that it doesn’t have to ask for permission from the state. Staff and local health advocates dispute this, arguing the inconvenience of the move could potentially leave thousands of patients without access to the Family Health Center’s vital programs.

“This is devaluing primary care and devaluing the community that we work within, and decreasing the access to those important services in the name of profits,” said one physician at the clinic.

The move also may have its fiscal roots in another state policy. In early 2023, the state health department is , like the one located in the Family Health Center, receive reimbursement for Medicaid purchases. Though the state has promised that it will provide reimbursement for the lost revenue, many providers are skeptical it will be enough.

Source: New York Focus