County Executive Pat Ryan launched a petition demanding NYS deny Westchester Medical Center Health Networks request to decertify inpatient beds and asks the community to sign-on
KINGSTON, N.Y. - Today, Ulster County Executive Ryan joined New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and 1199 SEIU for a Speak-Out at Kingston City Hall calling on HealthAlliance to return the county’s only inpatient mental health and chemical dependency services. Additionally, he launched a petition to demand that New York State deny any application(s) submitted by Westchester Medical Center Health Network requesting decertification of inpatient beds licensed to provide behavioral health (mental health and substance use) stabilization and treatment to Ulster County residents at Health Alliance Hospital.
The petition, addressed to the Commissioners of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), states, “We fervently reject the removal of these services and we are calling on the New York State OMH and OASAS to deny this waiver and insist that Westchester Medical Center Health Network immediately return these mental health and addiction services and live up to its stated commitment to ensuring our community’s health and safety.”
“At the height of the pandemic, in a year where we saw our suicides in Ulster County double and where we saw fatal opioid overdoses up 93%, our supposed partners, Westchester Medical pulled the rug out from underneath us,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “Now more than ever, we must guarantee that all residents have ample access to vital local services and come together to ensure our community is receiving the support it desperately needs and deserves. I am asking every community member to join us and sign our petition calling on New York State to not allow Westchester to permanently decertify these beds.”
“We see nurses, who have given so much to the community, also pushed to the barebones so hospitals can increase their profits,” Joann Grazier, a retired registered nurse from HealthAlliance Hudson Valley said. “When these hospitals choose to make cuts, no one is concerned about the nurses’ livelihoods and no one is concerned about the community members who use these services. We need to bring back what it means to be a community hospital.”
Residents can view and sign the petition by visiting https://ulstercountyny.gov/saveourmentalhealthservices. In June, Health Alliance Hudson Valley Hospital laid off 40 staff members, despite health care workers being at the frontlines of the community’s pandemic response.