Westchester Medical Center Merges With Sound Shore Health System

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Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. Photo Credit: Provided

VALHALLA, N.Y. — Valhalla's Westchester Medical Center and the Sound Shore Health System, which includes hospitals in New Rochelle and Mount Vernon, have agreed to a corporate merger, the organizations announced Tuesday.

"The days of an independent hospital are over," Sound Shore Health CEO and President John Spicer said in a phone interview. "We needed to collaborate with the larger medical center."

The Sound Shore Health System includes the Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle and Mount Vernon Hospital.  

The two organizations are in the early stages of establishing the corporate relationship after signing a Memorandum of Understanding, which allow them to be in exclusive talks, said Spicer and Michael Israel, CEO of Westchester Medical Center. 

The preliminary merger will offer more than just one large hospital in three locations, Israel said. 

"The hospitals within the Sound Shore Health System focus more on primary and secondary care, where we focus more on specialty care," he said. "So the models are different."

Over the past two years, Westchester Medical Center has gone through a string of layoffs due to budget cuts. Those layoffs are not a sign of financial instability, Israel said. 

"We're in our seventh straight year of profitability," he said. "Being a public benefit corporation and a part of the New York State pension plan, we have pension and post-retirement health plan costs that are three times what other hospitals have, so we are reacting to the environment."

The two systems will know more about the merger and how it will affect services and the landscape of the three hospitals as a whole in the next "45 to 60 days," Israel said. It was too early to determine whether the corporate relationship would be given a new name, Israel and Spicer said. 

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When my father was suddenly stricken with a massive brain hemorrhage, he was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center where he received the highest quality of care around the clock. He had no chance of survival, but the team did everything they could to keep him comfortable and pain free and went out of their way to treat our family with compassion and kindness. We were allowed to be with him every minute until he passed away peacefully. We need this medical center to continue to grow and improve it's quality of care. It's vital to our communities.

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All I know is that in the last 5 years Westchester Medical Center went from being a GO TO hospital to a AVOID hospital when it comes to care. I myself and more than a few friends have had substandard care on more than one occaision in the ER. They have laid off so many good people and lost so many good doctors that I no longer want to be taken there in any emergency.