Letter to the Community from Dr. David Perlstein - SBH Health System
Image of exterior of St. Barnabas Hospital, SBH Health System

Dear Community,

Last Friday, while driving to Washington DC to attend a wedding, I received a call from our Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric Appelbaum informing me of the horrific events at Bronx Lebanon Hospital. Early Wednesday morning I received yet another call from Dr. Appelbaum, this time relating to me the killing of one of New York’s finest.

I’ve since had some time to consider the impact of these attacks on our community and hospital, and how best to respond to them. What can we learn from them? And how should we collectively incorporate these events into our lives? We can neither ignore them nor simply will them away. Instead, we must stand together and move forward.

These events in our neighborhood are not uniquely Bronx experiences, and should not be dismissed or explained away in this manner. Our community is comprised of a wonderfully rich melting pot of different nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and religions. We interact and support each other every day. At times like this, we must speak out against violence and hate. We must also try to prevent ourselves from entering into a cycle of fear, anxiety and mistrust continuing to live our lives to their fullest and encourage others to do the same. Despite these events, I will continue to walk around the neighborhood or to the subway at 188th and Grand Concourse and take the B or D train as I have now for almost 20 years. This is my community as well.

Speaking out, unfortunately is not enough. We must do what we can to promote violence prevention, addressing both workplace violence and community violence. We also must remain forever vigilant both at home and at work. We must prepare for the worst while believing in the best.

In both of these recent incidents, individuals acted selflessly to protect each other — whether family, friend or stranger. The staff at Bronx Lebanon Hospital rushed to the aid of their colleagues and patients. The members of the NYPD rushed into action to try to save their colleague while in the line of fire, as did our doctors and nurses in their fight to save the police officer’s life. These responses, though noble on their own, do not happen in a vacuum. The NYPD undergoes significant training to prepare for these sorts of events. Hospitals must as well.

As a means to this end, I have asked our Chief Operating Officer Len Walsh to work with our Education Department and Security Department to continue emergency preparedness training. This includes active shooter trainings for our hospital’s leadership and staff. As a part of our dedication to the quadruple aim, we will also develop programs focused on increasing our own resilience during these difficult times so we do not lose what makes us so special — our enduring commitment to our patients and their families. Part of our mission at SBH Health System is to care for and nurture our community. These events will not change this. We are both of the community and for the community and will continue to welcome with open arms all who walk through our doors.

Sincerely,

David Perlstein, MD
President & Chief Executive Officer