Rousing Community Outcry At Meeting Regarding Maternity Ward Reopening Process at Norwood’s North Central Bronx Hospital

Photo c/o The Daily News.

While Bronxites have been thrilled that maternity services will return to North Central Bronx Hospital in Norwood, easing the tension at wards in other area hospitals such as Jacobi Medical Center, community members and elected officials grilled the city’s Health and Hospital Corporation representative La Ray Brown and other hospital officials on their prior and future attention to community feedback and agreements in the process to reopen the ward, including remarks from Council Members Andy King and Ritchie Torres.

Councilman Ritchie Torres called out the hospital administrators for “reneging” on a firm agreement to hold monthly meetings with community stakeholders to update the community on progress, leading to a tense exchange with Ms. Brown in the video above.

“I wonder how you go from a center that is able to deliver these services exceptionally well, to a center than is unable to deliver these services at all,” said Torres, addressing  William Walsh, Senior Vice President of the North Bronx Healthcare Network. “It seems like a total collapse.”

ritchiezinaminTorres’s exchange with Dr. Michael Zinaman, Chair of OBGYN at the hospital and Jacobi Medical Center, (above photo) was less heated, who agreed to the Councilman’s request to be provided updated information on the status of the current hiring process for public consumption.


Councilman Andy King (above) who has worked with labor organizations and community stakeholders on the issue for months, questioned Dr. Zinaman about the role of unions whose members will staff the ward and their collaborative role in the process.

“Communication seems to be one of the number 1 priorities.  I know you [La Ray Brown] answered the question perfectly regarding regularly scheduled meetings, because we don’t want to just have a meeting to have a meeting, we want them to be meaningful ,” King said, referring to Councilman Torres’s exchange with Ms. Brown.  “We all just want to be on the same page that we open this up the right way, with the proper resources, the proper funding, and you have our commitment from the City Council to be on the right side of this conversation. ”

He added, “I don’t want us to keep throwing rocks at each other every time we get in the room, because that doesn’t help us move forward at all.”

The tension between community members active on this issue and the administrators had been palpable prior to King’s remarks,  exemplified in the story of Sandra Jost Lobo and Fay Muir, who spoke about being thrown out of the lobby while leafleting information they felt was beneficial for the hospital.  Sheldon McLeod, Chief Operating Office of the hospital, said in no uncertain terms it was disruptive and intolerable to engage in outreach activities ad hoc in the lobby.  (See the exchange below.)


LaRay Brown, Senior Vice President of HHC, explained (see video below) that the hospital was on track for meeting the timeline goals recently established for restoring services (available below) and William Walsh (r.) expressed that he was pleased with the public rollout of the plan at a morning press conference yesterday.  However, concerns from elected officials and community members focused on ensuring transparency in the process going forward.


Hannah Nelson, chief of staff of the  North Bronx Healthcare Network, alleviated a bit of the tension and spoke positively (in the video above) about the upcoming opportunities for the hospital to work with the community and do outreach to inform the public about the new services that will be available at the hospital as well as the timeline for when the services will be restored.  An outline of the timeline given out at the meeting can be seen below.


Community members, such as Elisabeth van Uhl speaking below, testified to the value of the hospital’s maternity services in the area and their own positive experiences with the healthcare professionals during childbirth and in prenatal care.

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