While Espada Awaits Verdict, Soundview Struggles to Stay Open

Reports of the demise of the nonprofit health clinics founded by ex-state Senator Pedro Espada Jr. are premature, a spokeswoman for the clinic told WNYC on Thursday.

While the former state senator awaits a verdict on corruption charges, the Soundview HeathCare Network in the Bronx is seeing just dozens of patients a day, instead of hundreds, at its five clinics across the borough.

The clinic has been unable to pay some staff members for several weeks. And although the focus of the center is pediatric and family care, the only patients walking through the doors are for podiatry, gastro-intestinal care and dental and psychiatric emergencies, according to Soundview spokeswoman Rachael Fasciani.

Espada and his son Pedro Gautier Espada have been charged with fraud and embezzlement. They allegedly used the nonprofit clinics to fund a lavish lifestyle, spending more than $500,000 intended for the network and its patients.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

Close to three-fourths of the 20,000 patients who visit Soundview annually are on Medicaid. The state-federal program is managed by Albany, which has been trying to disqualify Soundview from receiving public funds since last August.

Espada claims Governor Andrew Cuomo is withholding money from the network as part of a political grudge. Federal judges have said the state can’t take action until Espada’s case is resolved.

Soundview says about 10,000 of its patients have been diverted to other providers over the objections of one federal judge. Health officials interpret the rulings differently.

“DOH complied with all applicable rules and regulations and honored all court orders that were issued,” said state Health Department spokesman Peter Constantakes.

Fasciani said Soundview will be able to meet its current payroll. She said Medicaid and the managed care companies owe the network more than $800,000, but Soundview expects to receive money “from an independent source” to fully reopen its doors next week.