Updated 05/18/2012 08:40 PM
Soundview Health Clinic Ordered To Shut Down
Just days after a jury found former State Senate majority leader Pedro Espada, Jr. guilty of pocketing funds from the Soundview Healthcare Network in the Bronx, the State Department of Health announced Friday it's shutting down the the financially troubled clinic and has asked it to promptly turn in its operating certificate. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed this report.
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Former State Senate majority leader Pedro Espada may have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Soundview Healthcare Network. But officials there, led by Espada's son Alejandro, said Friday that this time, they're being victimized by the State Department of Health.
In a letter Friday, the DOH sought to revoke the clinic's operating certificate, effectively shutting it down.
"This is a continuation of the DOH's attempt to link Senator Espada's to the fate of this clinic," Alejandro Espada said. "In reality, Senator Espada is no longer involved int he operation of Soundview Healthcare Network."
State health officials said staffing and resources at Soundview have proven inadequate. But officials at the clinic said the state's funding cuts and attempts terminate the clinic's Medicaid status last year played a part.
For now, the clinic's doors remain open and it continues to provide some limited services as it fights the state's effort to close it down in court.
"What they're requesting is a close-out plan," said Alejandro Espada. "What we're trying to do is prevent that from happening."
The state says it's working with 11 healthcare providers in the area to make sure patients continue to receive assistance. But many of those who've relied on Soundview say nearby alternatives are lacking.
"Where else are they going?" said one resident. "People aren't being directed to other facilities that they can receive treatment at in this area."
"The community needs this because the nearest hospital, it's a two-transportation cost to get there and it's overwhelmed," said another resident.
As for Espada, he faces up to 40 years in prison for looting the clinic for nearly $500,000, which he used to pay for lavish personal expenses. But first, he likely faces a retrial on four charges the jury deadlocked on.
As for reports the clinic has been paying Espada's legal expenses, Soundview officials say that's absolutely untrue.