Last year, on an unseasonably warm October day, I had the great pleasure of joining colleagues, friends and our community to cut the ribbon on Montefiore New Rochelle’s revitalized and expanded emergency department, our renovated and upgraded radiology department and a new, modernized 25,000-square- foot Montefiore Medical Group Health Center. These upgrades enable us to provide a full range of health-care services.
This beautiful day celebrated our commitment to bringing the best care to New Rochelle and its surrounding communities — both within the hospital and outside of our doors. As I said at the time, it was an “exemplary reflection of the New York state health department’s goals with respect to health-care accessibility.”
Funded by the New York State Capital Restructuring Financing Program, the center cutting marked only the beginning of this phase of our journey. Since the unveiling of our emergency department, volume has nearly doubled, and our radiology department continues to be outfitted with the latest and greatest technology has to offer. We’ve also received handwritten letters from community members talking about our renovations and how the “courteous, efficient and professional staff compliment the beauty of our new facilities.” I still have one of these letters tacked on my wall.
As I get closer to my decade at Montefiore New Rochelle (I started here in 2013), there are so many exciting new initiatives above and beyond last October’s event that are advancing care and reflect our ability to adapt to both current preferences and future population needs.
Advancing diabetes and kidney care
In the hospital and on our campus, we are working on becoming a “one-stop shop” for diabetes and kidney disease, both of which are far too prominent in our community. Approximately 20% of the people we care for at Montefiore New Rochelle have these conditions.
Working with Fresenius, a global leader in kidney care, we are ensuring all examinations, blood work, measurements of electrolyte balances — essentially all care needs — can happen on our campus. We’re also expanding to home therapy dialysis, which we know is less traumatic to the body and would give people in New Rochelle and the surrounding areas a better response to treatment. Together we are improving the care and quality of life for people with kidney disease.
Should anyone need a kidney transplant, young or old, we’re fortunate that Montefiore is home to one of the best programs in the world. Our Montefiore-Einstein Center for Transplantation was founded in 1967 and, ever since, we have been at the forefront of critical developments in transplantation, offering adults and children with kidney failure a chance to be free from dialysis. We are among the best hospitals in the country for adult and pediatric transplantation.
Expanding our telehealth capabilities
Outside the hospital, we’re leaders as well. We have more telehealth offerings than ever before. In addition to telehealth appointments with our primary-care doctors and specialty-care practices, we are also doing more screenings, which might be required prior to surgical or other major procedures, through the comfort of your personal home computer.
This year, we’ve already conducted more than 500 telehealth appointments between our Montefiore New Rochelle Faculty Practice and Montefiore Medical Group Health Center.
These numbers will continue to climb. It’s strange to say, but Covid-19 helped us quickly increase our telehealth infrastructure and capabilities. I think the pandemic also brought us closer together as a community. Nobody could have foreseen the tragedy that the pandemic would bring, but I couldn’t be prouder to have our hospital here. People saw that we were a resource and a reliable one at that.
As the pandemic progressed, I think there was also more of an appreciation of the role a hospital like ours can have as an anchor in the community. Being the epicenter of the initial wave of Covid-19, we saw so many heroes emerge during this time. I couldn’t have been prouder to partner on many Covid-19 testing and care initiatives with our mayor, Noam Bramson, whose intelligence, heart and calmness under pressure offered a model that all leaders should follow when managing a crisis. I’m privileged to call him a friend.
Together with the city of New Rochelle, our focus is on keeping people healthy. That work must largely be done outside of our hospital. As we kick off the summer, we’re looking to have more contactless sunscreen dispensers at parks and beaches to instill healthy habits among New Rochelle’s youth. Having these dispensers is also an important resource for preventing skin cancer.
Advancing tomorrow’s workforce
Investing in our workforce is equally as important in promoting health among New Rochelle residents.
For almost a decade, Montefiore New Rochelle has been home to Project SEARCH, an incredible program that prepares young adults with developmental disabilities for the future by giving them hands-on training at the hospital, with the support of a job coach. As part of the Project SEARCH program, interns perform clerical work, assist the elderly, work in the hospital kitchen and perform other jobs, giving these students various skills that are necessary for a bright future. It is a real gem in our community.
The Montefiore School of Nursing is a leader in nursing education, preparing the next generation of registered professional nurses poised to improve the health and well-being of their patients. Our reputation for excellence attracts highly motivated students, who gain diverse clinical experience across Montefiore Health System.
Meeting future needs
As we plan for the next phase of Montefiore New Rochelle’s growth, we continue to engage with members of our community to best meet everyone’s current and future needs.
We feel privileged to deliver the highest-quality care for fragile newborns and ensure the safest environments for mothers and their babies. As a member of Montefiore Health System, we offer the full spectrum of maternity and newborn care. Our faculty practices provide comprehensive ob/gyn in three distinct communities — New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and the Bronx — to offer superior access to all the communities we serve.
We also provide a wide range of primary and specialty care at our new 20 Cedar St. faculty practice office, including in internal and general medicine, gastroenterology, rheumatology, neurology, geriatrics, orthopedics and spine and vascular surgery.
At this time in our country, we need compassion to come together to support our communities, particularly groups that have been economically and socially marginalized. Over my time as executive director of Montefiore New Rochelle, I have found that when we all work together with a focus on our patients and families, everybody wins. While outpatient care is certainly much of our growing footprint and overall, the future of health care, our hospital, led by our unwavering commitment to providing the best research-based care and driven by being part of the social fabric of our community is here to stay — and there is nowhere else that I’d rather be.
Tony Alfano is vice president and executive director of Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital. For more, visit montefiorehealthsystem.org.