A Brooklyn nurse says he repeatedly tried to warn city First Lady Chirlane McCray about the devastating effect of reassigning psych wards to be used for COVID-19 patients — only to be ignored by her billion-dollar mental-health initiative.
Irving Campbell, a psychiatric nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist, told The Post he watched his 50-bed ward close in March to treat people with COVID-19 — leaving at least some of the hospital’s former mental patients on the street, rooting around in the trash nearby.
“My intention of reaching out was to get the support of the mayor and first lady in keeping these inpatient psychiatric beds available to the community,’’ Campbell wrote in an e-mail to a counselor with McCray’s embattled $1.25 billion mental-health group ThriveNYC in late July.
The counselor blew him off.
“I am unable to provide you with a way that you can speak directly with the Mayor or Ms. McCray,” the counselor wrote — although she suggested Campbell “continue to speak out about a need you see in your community,” according to a copy of their exchange.
Campbell then tried to reach ThriveNYC on social media and sent a letter to the mayor but got no response.
New York has lost 400 psych beds to coronavirus patients in private hospitals statewide since the pandemic broke out.
About 100 of those beds were in New York City. They included the 50 spaces at Campbell’s hospital, as well as 34 at Presbyterian’s Allen Pavilion in Upper Manhattan and 20 at Northwell Health’s Syosset Hospital on Long Island.
Campbell, who is active with the New York State Nurses Association, said that while state hospitalizations for the virus have plummeted, his unit has yet to reopen — and his union suspects this is because the hospital’s mental-health patients were largely poor, and other health-care issues generate as much as 70 times their related payments.