Mount Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, Open Door Family Medical Center and Hudson River HealthCare will lose money that pays for testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and childhood vaccinations in the county executive’s proposed budget.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s 2011 budget cuts about $1.9 million from the three community health centers and closes four of the county’s mental health clinics.
“It’s so intolerable I can’t even think about it. We just have to fight this like crazy,” said Lindsay Farrell, chief executive officer of Open Door Family Medical Centers, serves about 40,000 patients in Ossining, Port Chester, Sleepy Hollow and Mount Kisco. HTe majority of the patients have incomes under $44,000 for a family of four.
Farrell said the money helps the community health centers vaccinate for diseases like tuberculosis, influenza and measles. Since the beginning of the recession, Open Door has seen a 20 percent uptick in the number of patients, especially the uninsured, seeking primary care at the centers.
“I’m horrified. I think its unbelievably short-sighted and misguided,” she said. “We all interact in society. We have tuberculosis in our communities and we have AIDS in our communities.”
In a release to the press, Astorino said the previous administration tried to make the same cuts only to have them restored by the county Board of Legislators. Astorino also noted that the community health centers got money through the federal health reform law.
“But those were one-time funds we received last year and earlier this year,” Farrell said.