Maimonides Medical Center racks up patient complaints

Care at Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park has gotten so bad that one dad said his wife had to practically deliver their baby on her own.

The mom rang the call bell three times without response at the understaffed hospital last month, as she felt the baby about to arrive, said the Borough Park man who did not want to be identified.

“She started yelling, ‘Go get a nurse. The baby’s coming out, the baby’s coming out!’ ” the man recalled.

By the time his mother-in-law, who was in the hospital room with the couple, was able to get help, the baby was half-way out, he said.

“The nurse came, she was all shocked,” the dad said.

The baby was healthy but “things could have gone very, very wrong,” he added.

The family’s experience was among nearly 1,000 complaints collected by the Save Maimonides campaign, a grassroots effort begun last month to counter what it contends is neglect and mismanagement at the 711-bed hospital.

The 711-bed hospital has faced severe staffing issues.

“The feedback we’re getting from the streets is that this hospital is failing,” said Mendy Reiner, a Save Maimonides leader. “I’d just like to go on the rooftop and yell, ‘Guys. Government. Whoever it is. Come in and save this hospital.’ “

In addition to staffing shortages, patient concerns include a lack of air conditioning.

“It’s like a sauna,” said a doula who helps moms give birth at Maimonides and elsewhere. She said she tries to convince some to deliver at different hospitals where they have a “beautiful experience.”

“Why do we have to go through this?” she said.

A hospital ad shared on Instagram belies the ongoing issues at the hospital.
A hospital ad shared on Instagram belies the ongoing issues at the hospital.

The state Health Department said it was investigating an air conditioning complaint.

The hospital, which serves many in the Orthodox Jewish community where people tend to have large families, has one of the busiest maternity wards in the state. There were 6,380 births there in 2021 down from 7,816 in 2019, state data shows.

Maimonides has also amassed 139 active Department of Buildings violations, many for its elevators. The hospital and its related entities have racked up $29,670 in unpaid fines for various violations including for an unregistered generator, city records show.

The hospital said it was actively addressing the DOB violations and it had brought in mobile chillers to provide extra cooling.

“Our technicians are continuing to work around the clock to ensure we are maintaining temperature levels that are as comfortable as possible throughout hospital facilities, and conditions have improved in affected areas,” said COO Michael Antoniades.

After a group of local elected officials blasted the care at Maimonides last month, the hospital tweeted an appeal to the Jewish community showing a model in Hasidic dress which said, “For Brooklyn, in Brooklyn” and “Stand with Maimo.”

Community leaders denounced it and it was quickly removed.

The struggling hospital treats around 300,000 patients per year.
The struggling hospital treats around 300,000 patients per year.
Paul Martinka

“It’s like a white man putting on black face,” said Yosef Rapaport, a podcaster from Borough Park. “It doesn’t take a second to see that this is kind of a mockery.”

Rapaport was treated at Maimonides for COVID-19 in 2020, and says he spent nearly two days in the emergency room where he was practically ignored.

“The minute they found out I was sort of a public figure, I got the royal treatment. That’s even a worse reflection in my eyes on the management. It shouldn’t be like that,” he said.

A hospital rep said the Hasidic image was “erroneously posted” and that it had issued an apology.

“We are proud that each year over 300,000 patients trust us with their care, and we actively seek out and utilize patient feedback to continue to make improvements.” said spokeswoman Stephanie Baez noting the hospital could not comment on specific patient complaints.