By Sabina Mollot
Last November, the president of Mount Sinai Downtown, a planned network of hospitals and healthcare centers that will include a downsized Beth Israel, told Town & Village that newborns being delivered would be getting phased out. At the time, the new network president, Dr. Jeremy Boal of Peter Cooper Village, said there wasn’t a hard deadline, but there simply wasn’t enough volume to justify continuing the service.
But Mount Sinai is now applying with the State Department of Health to discontinue deliveries at Beth Israel by late May. Instead, expectant mothers would be admitted at one of the other in-network hospitals like Mount Sinai West. In its written application to have the hospital’s maternity beds and its well-baby nursery “de-certified,” Mount Sinai explained that it only delivers six babies a day at Beth Israel, with half of the mothers coming from Brooklyn.
While the neighborhoods surrounding Beth Israel have no shortage of young families, Boal told Town & Village back in November that proximity to the hospital just wasn’t driving business there from neighbors.
“People follow their OBs wherever they deliver,” said Boal. “They’re not choosing hospitals based on their hospitals being local to them.”
In a written statement, the hospital said no jobs were expected to be slashed as a result of this move, and, said Boal, obstetrics and gynecological care will remain at Mount Sinai Downtown Union Square (formerly the Beth Israel Phillips Ambulatory Care Center).
Mount Sinai also plans to increase its presence at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and Boal touted the delivery suites and operating Mount Sinai West in midtown and Mount Sinai Hospital uptown.
“Both hospitals are renowned for their labor and delivery services, and continue to invest in infrastructure to ensure that new and expecting mothers receive the best care possible,” said Boal. “In addition, both MSH and MSW are equipped with a full-service, Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for infants born prematurely or with complications.”
At this time, Beth Israel has 73 beds it’s hoping to shed by May 22 (42 inpatient maternity beds, 14 neonatal continuing beds and 17 neonatal intermediate care beds). The well-baby nursery, located on two floors, has 45 bassinets, which are not considered certifiable beds.
In 2016, the hospital reported that it had a 56.7 percent daily occupancy rate of its maternity beds, which was lower than in 2013, when the occupancy rate was 69.2 percent. In 2016, 3,302 women gave birth at Beth Israel. However, Mount Sinai noted in its application, MSH and MSW each have over 70 maternity beds.