By Sabina Mollot
Mount Sinai Beth Israel, which, in a few years, will be downsized to a much smaller space on East 14th Street, won’t be offering pre-planned, very complex procedures, with patients instead being sent to other Mount Sinai medical centers. However, the hospital emergency room will still be able to treat people who are in unstable conditions so that they regain stability before getting transferred elsewhere.
This seemed to be the main takeaway from a presentation at Beth Israel last Wednesday that was specifically geared towards the community of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
The organizer of that event was the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association, whose president, Susan Steinberg, later told Town & Village that the community’s primary concern was treatment at the emergency department.
“They were saying, ‘were they going to take unstable patients and shunt them elsewhere?’” Steinberg said. “Some people were under the impression the emergency room wasn’t going to provide critical procedures and they said that’s not the case at all.”
On the decision to move certain complex procedures to other hospitals within the network, Steinberg said this was explained as wanting to move patients to whichever facility performed the highest quantity of that specific procedure. Procedures like pre-planned organ transplants, neurological surgery or cardiac surgery were brought up as examples.
Last month, Town & Village reported that cardiac surgery would no longer be done onsite, with the hospital giving the same explanation. The reasoning was that higher quantity translated into higher quality of care.
Asked by T&V about details regarding the transfers of patients needing complex procedures, Mount Sinai spokesperson Loren Riegelhaupt said specifics were still being worked out.
Meanwhile, the hospital announced on Friday that it would no longer have an inpatient rehabilitation unit, with the service to instead be offered at other hospitals within the network.
Beth Israel’s president, Susan Somerville, explained that the decision was due to the unit being under-utilized. Currently, the number of patients being treated there is 13, she said. The other reason she gave was the industry trend towards an outpatient care model. The hospital has promised there would be no job cuts as a result of the unit’s closure.
In a written statement, Somerville said, “Mount Sinai will focus on optimizing the use of its existing inpatient rehab beds at our other hospitals to enhance the care of those with severe disabilities, such as model treatment for spinal cord injury and brain injury, and other rehabilitation innovations. Moreover, we will continue to provide and enhance the outpatient therapy and rehabilitation programs at Mount Sinai’s Phillips Ambulatory Care Center at Union Square.”
Somerville was also one of the speakers at Wednesday’s presentation, along with Mount Sinai Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeremy Boals and Brad Korn, the hospital network’s director of community affairs.
Also discussed at the meeting was Mount Sinai’s plan to make hospital stays shorter. Steinberg said she brought up the fact that a decade ago she got a bad bacterial infection from a toxic cat bite and was taken to Beth Israel, where she spent the next six days being treated for it.
When asked what kind of treatment she could expect to get now for a similar condition, Steinberg said she was told, “I’d be taken for observation and treated and sent home within 12-18 hours with an IV and a nurse visiting. They said people eat better, sleep better and get well better when they’re in their own environment. People in the audience loved that and I loved it.”
Steinberg added that the crowd for this meeting was small, under 25 people, but the hospital reps said they’d be willing to do another community presentation when fewer people are likely to be out of town.
In related news, Council Member Dan Garodnick has asked Mount Sinai for more clarity on its downsizing plans. This was done via a letter to the medical giant, which was signed by 16 other elected officials, In the letter, Garodnick asked for details on the types of patients who’d be moved offsite for more complex services, such as how many patients Mount Sinai expected to be transferring, what categories of care would be considered complex and how the logistics of those transfers would be handled.
He also asked what the plans were for “Hospital at Home,” a three-year pilot program scheduled to end in 2017, once a grant funding it from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is exhausted.
“It would seem that to help decrease the need for inpatient stays, MSHS (Mount Sinai Health System), plans on making the Hospital at Home program permanent,” Garodnick wrote.
Garodnick also asked about the future of deliveries of babies at the hospital. Another concern was about the future of a hospice unit and if it will be included in the East 14th Street location, which will be adjacent to the Mount Sinai Eye & Ear Infirmary.
A few of the elected officials to sign onto the letter were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Brad Hoylman.
Riegelhaupt said the hospital had seen the letter.
On Friday, the hospital launched a webpage that will offer updates on changes within Beth Israel and a newly created Mount Sinai Downtown Health System as they become available.