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Medical Center's Wound Care Unit Cut to the Bone

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – After her position at the Westchester Medical Center was eliminated, Esther Mayz said her family’s financial situation was thrown into limbo.

“I’m the main bread provider in the family, my husband has been out of work for two years,” Mayz said, who has four children. “How I’m going to make the mortgage payments and all the other things with a family is very scary.”

Mayz was one of three nurses in the wound-care unit at the medical center. Two out of the three positions in the unit were cut recently as the hospital eliminated 250 positions due to budget constraints. The cut leaves one nurse in the wound-care unit on a part-time basis. The wound-care unit specializes in treating infected wounds and preventing pressure ulcers, or bed sores, when a patient spends a long period of time in the hospital. Mayz said that throughout the course of a year, the unit would care for around 1,500 patients and see up to 10 patients a day.

Westchester Medical Center officials declined to comment on the reduction of the wound-care nursing staff.

Mayz said that it is physically impossible for one person to handle the unit’s work load and that the medical center’s decision to eliminate these positions could actually cost them more money in the future.

“We’re the people at the hospital that ensure that preventative measures are being taken so that the center avoids lawsuits related to these developing sores,” Mayz said.  “In the long run we could save the hospital a lot of money.”

For 30 years, the Rockland County resident has worked at the medical center.  When cuts at the center were announced, she thought for sure that her job was safe.

“I was scared that it could happen but I never thought they would eliminate my position because of how important it is to the patients,” Mayz said.

May Lou Cahill, the New York State Nurses Association Representative for the Westchester Medical Center, said that employees such as Mayz are crucial to the medical center not only because of their versatility, but also because of their experience.

“These are nurses that not only work in all different areas of the hospital but also have been here for so long that they can provide proper education to younger nurses,” Cahill said.  “And education at the medical center is crucial.”

Due to her seniority, Mayz was given the opportunity to take a different position in the center and can bump a colleague with less experience.  The position she prefers is in the Intensive Care Unit and offers a significant decrease in pay.  She will have to wait until the end of the month to learn if she obtained the position.

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