Dozens of nurses met with the city council in Mount Vernon Wednesday to seek answers in Mount Vernon Hospital's mounting financial problems and its state of care.
Seventy thousand people depend on the hospital for basic care, emergency services and psychological assistance, but the hospital's financial woes have employees worried it will shut down.
"This community needs a hospital," said Tracy McCook, a registered nurse. "There's a lot of elderly, indigent patients in this community that suffer from chronic diseases. They don't have access to go anywhere else."
Dan Lutz of the New York State Nurses Association said the hospital's leaders have failed in their responsibilities.
"It's a tough job to make this hospital succeed, and we don't think the current administration of the hospital is up to that job," said Lutz.
The nurses union agreed last week to forego pay raises as part of a contract extension, but they say other cutbacks have already compromised patient care and created long lines at the emergency room, with some waiting as long as 50 hours to be seen. There is no treatment for diabetes and asthma, they said, and not enough beds.
A $30 million cash infusion from the state has helped keep the hospital afloat, but everyone acknowledges that's not nearly enough.
"You see people who believe in this hospital and don't think that they've got the best answers for the problems they face," said Mayor Ernest Davis.
Hospital officials insist it will not shut down, but city council leaders were not satisfied.
"That's a relief that it will stay open, but what will that look like?" asked councilman Richard Thomas. "What's the business model? How are they going to earn revenue?"
A hospital spokesperson said it is in the process of finding a larger hospital in Westchester or the Bronx to partner with and potentially expand services and restore jobs. They are hoping to make the deal in the next six to eight weeks.