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Public concerns over the Upstate-Crouse merger include staffing and quality of care

The second Upstate-Crouse community forum at the Southwest Community Center.
Isabel Flores
The second Upstate-Crouse community forum at the Southwest Community Center.

Many of the same concerns were raised at the second community forum regarding the planned merger of Upstate University Hospital and Crouse Health. Members of the public again expressed concerns over wait times, quality of care, and staffing.

Panelists from Upstate and Crouse were met with even more questions and skepticism from residents during the second community forum at the Southwest Community Center. Executive Director of Syracuse United Neighbors Rich Puchalski is against Upstate acquiring Crouse.

"Will losing one hospital result in less staffing, longer waits in the ER, and a lower quality of care?" Puchalski said.

Puchalski added that the hospitals will need to do more to ensure that Syracuse’s disadvantaged communities can afford medical care.

Another community concern was over the future of maternal healthcare. Renee Mestad is a former OB-GYN department worker at Upstate Hospital. She’s in favor of the two hospitals merging but wants to make sure there’s a focus on recruitment and retention in the obstetrics and gynecology department.

“We live in a maternal healthcare desert... In the past two years, we have lost our urogynecologist… We have lost our reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist. We have lost six of our 11 general OB-GYNs, that’s myself included,” Mestad said.

Mestad said many women’s health specialists are being limited in their practices since the reversal of Roe v. Wade and may be looking for jobs.

The panelists maintained that they are looking to fill a variety of medical positions and staff will not be cut as a product of the two hospitals coming together.

Isabel Flores is a graduate student studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May of 2023. As a multimedia reporter, she helps to present as well as produce audio and digital content for WAER. In her free time, Isabel enjoys working out and listening to all genres of music.