State Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein, working in tandem with Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, has pushed through new legislation that will require Montefiore Medical Center to receive formal approval from Community Board 8 and the state Department of Health (DOH) before it can build a controversial facility in south Riverdale.
The lawmakers used the state budget passed late Monday to amend public health law so large health care centers proposed for Bronx County must undergo evaluations that determine the appropriateness of their size, parking accommodations and impact on nearby medical facilities as well as ways to ameliorate any adverse consequences for the community.
The DOH will ultimately decide whether to approve, reject or suggest modifications for new health centers after forums in which institutions such as Montefiore must appear before the community board and residents.
After months of community backlash against Montefiore’s plans, including a CB 8 resolution condemning them, the law stands to force the health care provider to scale back its proposed 11-story, 59,000-square-foot facility to community members’ liking.
“I think this is a first-step victory for myself and Assemblyman Dinowitz and [Congressman Eliot] Engel and [Councilman Andrew] Cohen, who have been very vocal about their opposition to this project,” Mr. Klein said in a phone interview.
“If you take a step back, I created this legislation as a pilot program in the Bronx, which I think makes sense moving forward with any type of ambulatory facility or hospital facility,” he added.
Mr. Klein said he moved to include the proposal in the state budget — using the leverage of his Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) which co-rules the Senate with Republicans — after the DOH declined a previous request by Mr. Klein and Mr. Dinowitz asking the department to evaluate whether Montefiore’s proposed facility deserves a Certificate of Need proving the site would actually help the community.