KINGSTON, NY – Officials from the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency want the Westchester Medical Center Health Network to seek any help the agency has the authority to provide as part of a call for turn the tide of changes that have reduced staff and services at its two HealthAlliance facilities in Kingston.
The concerns were discussed following a meeting on Wednesday August 18. Managing Director Rose Woodworth said parent company of WMC HealthAlliance should provide information on what it needs to determine if funding is available.
“If they needed the money to build a new wing for the mental health unit, we could help them,” she said.
County officials reported that HealthAlliance had space to treat 60 behavioral health inpatients in Kingston before services were relocated to the Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie in March 2020 to make way for an expected increase in number of COVID-19 patients. Demand for beds due to the coronavirus has not peaked as expected, but the Westchester Medical Center Health Network has refused to return services to Kingston.
In a press release, agency officials wrote that they were “disappointed” by Westchester Medical Center’s decision in June to lay off “about 40 hospital staff.” They maintain that job retention is part of the agency’s mission statement and that the health network should strive to keep its employees.
“The agency is ready to work with local officials and representatives from WMC… they wrote.
Representatives from Westchester Medical Center were not immediately available on Thursday, August 19 for comment. They said in June that the cut was made to eliminate “layoffs” without any reduction in bedside nursing positions.
Agency officials said his organization had previously supported the Kingston hospital system through “the issuance of low-interest tax-exempt bonds for the realization of capital improvements on the (old) site of the Kingston hospital and on the (old) site of the Benedictine hospital “.
In 1999, the former Benedictine hospital borrowed $ 15 million to acquire seven acres adjacent to the facility. The money was also used to renovate the then existing 250,000 square foot building and cover the cost of an 8,000 square foot addition. This bond was refinanced for $ 20 million in 2006 to include the repayment of the original loan as well as the additional debt that had been accumulated.