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County Surprises Mt. Pleasant By Ending Response to Medical Building

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The medical building at 19 Bradhurst Ave. in Hawthorne. Westchester County police and emergency personnel said last week they are prepared to end calls to the privately-operated facility.

Mount Pleasant’s emergency services face a severe strain after Westchester County suddenly informed town officials last week that its personnel will no longer be responding to calls at the 19 Bradhurst Ave. medical building in Hawthorne.

Police Chief Paul Oliva said last Tuesday that he was notified a day earlier by the Westchester County Department of Public Safety that effective immediately county police will not answer calls at the roughly 210,000-square-foot medical complex. There are a wide variety of medical providers and specialists at that location.

Any change would impact the Hawthorne Volunteer Ambulance Corps, whose coverage area includes the property, and potentially the Valhalla Ambulance Corps since it would serve as the backup ambulance service, according to town officials. Currently, when a patient needs to be transported from the site to the hospital, the Westchester Emergency Medical Service (WEMS) is responsible to complete that task.

For most reports of aided cases at medical facilities, police also respond.

At first, Oliva said he thought it was an April Fool’s joke, but soon realized that the change was imminent.

“But they’re just abandoning ship,” the chief said. “Our paramedic usually rolls on these calls also. So it’s going to tie up our paramedic. I mean, I know what I would have to do but I don’t know if there are any other avenues. I don’t know if I can fight it or not.”

Town Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said last Friday that no change had been made as of last week despite the town being informed county coverage would end on Apr. 1. He said the town is engaging in talks with the county, but there’s been no resolution yet.

“The problem is, can the ambulance corps, the volunteer ambulance corps, handle it,” Fulgenzi said. “Hawthorne’s been stressed with calls. So the town is going to look at what are we going to do moving forward. Do we have to create another supplemental service?”

The change is being made after the county police conducted an internal review of its responses for aided cases throughout Westchester, not just 19 Bradhurst Ave., said county police spokesman Kieran O’Leary. Elimination of the county’s response at the Hawthorne site was decided on after it was confirmed that the overwhelming majority of the property, including the portion where the building is situated, is on privately-owned land and not county property, he said.

“We were examining the necessity of responding to aided cases at medical offices when medical professionals were already present,” O’Leary said. “Generally speaking, those calls at 19 Bradhurst were handled by an Emergency Service Unit truck assigned to central Westchester, making that truck and its two officers unavailable for other calls until the ambulance arrived and the transport occurred.”

In 2023, the county responded to 299 calls at that address, with 212 of those being “aided cases,” according to statistics from the county. Aided cases typically would be non-emergencies where a patient would be at the site for a doctor’s appointment and it would be determined by medical personnel that they should go to the hospital, O’Leary said.

Most of the other calls involved minor vehicle accidents in the parking lot or parking complaints, he said. There were also a few criminal complaints and domestic disputes.

Oliva and Town Board members said last week that some advance notice would have been beneficial for the town so it could prepare both its officers and volunteer ambulance corps for the added responsibility. Councilwoman Laurie Rogers-Smalley said at least 90 days lead time would have been sufficient.

Councilwoman Danielle Zaino said the town may be hard-pressed to fulfill the obligation without proper notification.

“I mean, I think if you explain to them (that) we have a (volunteer) shortage and we’re trying to deal with it as it is providing public safety, and we’re certainly not going to be able to service these calls, they have to give us some notice,” Zaino said to Oliva at last Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

Fulgenzi said the town will also reach out to the building’s owner, which according to the town’s assessor’s office is Pepe/Fareri One, LLC, to hire a private ambulance service to shoulder some of the burden.

Meanwhile, the supervisor said the town hopes to make the upcoming transition as easy as possible for the volunteers.

“We’re going to be having a meeting the next couple of weeks with the volunteer services and offer what do you guys need that we can do to help you,” Fulgenzi said.

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