Beth Israel will no longer offer cardiac surgery

Mount Sinai Beth Israel (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Mount Sinai Beth Israel (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Following the official news of Beth Israel’s downsizing to a 70-bed facility, a nurse who’s worked at Beth Israel for many years called Town & Village to say the hospital will be losing its cardiac surgery department.

She said it was right before the Memorial Day weekend when she and others were told that the cardiac surgery department would be moved offsite to St. Luke’s. This follows other department downsizings, like neonatal and pediatrics.

While some heart cardiac services would remain, patients needing actual surgery would have to be taken to the facility on Amsterdam and 114th Street, she said.

“That’s 100 blocks,” said the nurse. “Have you ever driven in New York City?”

The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, added that she thought this was unsafe for patients, noting that sometimes, after being given a stent, patients will require immediate surgery.

“Everyone’s confused,” she added, referring to Mount Sinai’s statements to the media that until the hospital is moved to a new, smaller location on East 14th Street, services would continue uninterrupted.

Asked about this by Town & Village, a hospital rep confirmed that “the most complex” heart conditions, including heart surgery, would in fact be sent elsewhere over the next four years, as Beth Israel transitions to a smaller healthcare facility.

The hospital, in a written statement, said, “Over the course of the next four years, our $500 million investment will enable us to dramatically expand and upgrade primary, specialty and outpatient surgical care centers Downtown. A centerpiece of the transformation will be the construction of a new hospital with inpatient beds, procedure and operating rooms, and a brand-new emergency room – at 14th Street and Second Avenue, just two blocks away from Mount Sinai Beth Israel, which will be able to handle emergency such as heart attacks and strokes. Over the course of the next several years, patients with the most complex conditions will be connected to one of our Centers of Excellence within the Mount Sinai Health System.”

Asked about what happens when the new hospital opens, the spokesperson said in the interest of quality care, cardiac surgery will still be performed in another facility with a high volume of similar procedures.

Last month, the hospital explained its decision to shutter its main campus on First Avenue and 16th Street and replace it with a much smaller one by saying that less than 60 percent of its 856 beds are occupied at any given time, and also cited changing demands in the healthcare industry.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who also heard from the nurse about a planned cut to cardiac services, told Town & Village he was asking Mount Sinai “for a community conversation.”

He added, “There should be no ambiguity when it comes to public health. People are appropriately nervous about what this means and we need to be in a position to evaluate it to ensure that public health will not be jeopardized.”

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