North General Hospital, Harlem, New York

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alg-north-general-jpgIn August 2010, just a month after filing for bankruptcy protection, North General Hospital in Harlem, New York closed.  On the heels of St. Vincent’s closing, when the 200-bed hospital shut its doors, 1,000 people lost their jobs, and the remaining hospitals in New York City were forced to endure as many as 36,000 additional emergency department visits.

The four days’ notice North General Hospital employees received came after a public relations campaign proclaimed the bankruptcy had saved the hospital. City officials dismissed concerns that other area hospitals would be overwhelmed, yet other hospitals described the aftermath as “chaotic and overwhelming.”

According to Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church and chairman of the North General Hospital’s board, the facility was about $200 million in debt, and indeed had been in debt since it opened in 1979. North General Hospital had been historically recognized as the only nonprofit community teaching hospital in Central and East Harlem, and area where on any given day there are over 80 different languages and hundreds of dialects spoken. North General Hospital historically structured services in response to the needs of its community, and while open operated residency programs in Primary Care Internal Medicine and Psychiatry.

Rev. Butts stated: “While it saddens us all to face closing the doors of a hospital that’s been an integral part of our neighborhood for 30 years, we see this as an opportunity to not only continue to use the North General facility to maintain the health of the people of this community.”

According to Dr. Raju Ayinla: “It’s definitely devastating to the community for several reasons. One is the job losses, jobs within the Harlem community that will be lost. Also, there are patients here that we’ve been taking care of for years, and there is no other place but this hospital.”

One patient noted:  “I’ve been a patient at North General for the past 17 years. North General saved my life. And I think right now it’s a crying shame that people are coming in here and snatching the lives from under people’s feet.”

Photo credit: www.nydailynews.com

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Posted: October 19, 2014

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Category: All, Lost Hospitals, New York

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