By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Mount Sinai Beth Israel is planning to build additional floors at the new East 13th Street facility to accommodate more beds if necessary, representatives announced. This is a change from the previously-announced plan since the hospital system had said that a smaller building would be constructed initially but with the ability to build additional floors if demand increased.
Representatives from the hospital system announced the adjustments to members of the Budget, Education and City Services committee for Community Board 5 on Tuesday and noted that this does not change the reduction in beds.
“We still believe we’ll have enough beds but we’ll be building up and adding the extra floors,” said Brad Korn, corporate director of community affairs for Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “(The space) might not end up being beds but it will cut down on the process if we do need it for that.”
Mount Sinai Beth Israel has not previously specified how many floors the new building would be but representatives said in past public meetings that the planned facility would be designed so that three to four additional stories could be added, with construction able to take place even once the building is open.
Korn and Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai, said at a previous joint meeting with Community Boards 3 and 6 last year that three additional floors could increase capacity at the hospital by a third.
The 799-bed facility is being downsized to 220 beds, with the 150 psychiatric beds staying the same and the remaining 649 being reduced to 70 medical surgery beds. Community members and health advocates have expressed concern about the drastic decrease in beds, but as in previous meetings, Korn and Beckstrom emphasized that the reductions are based on usage, since the hospital is rarely close to capacity.
“Beth Israel is licensed for 799 beds but for the last 19 years I’ve been with the hospital, we’ve never operated more than five to six hundred,” Korn said.
Beckstrom added that this is an ongoing national trend and fewer hospital beds are being used throughout the country, especially because the length of stay for many procedures has been decreasing. Beckstrom and Korn also noted at the meeting that the hospital system released a Community Health Needs Assessment at the end of last year, which Korn said was consistent with data that Mount Sinai Beth Israel has been looking at from the last four years and confirms the downward trend.
“Part of what we’re doing with this plan is changing how services will be delivered, not changing the services,” Korn said. “The future of medicine is not to be at the hospital anyway. The amount of days you spend in a hospital has clearly changed and that means you don’t need as many beds.”
Beckstrom said at the recent Community Board meeting that Mount Sinai Beth Israel will be submitting a Certificate of Need by the middle of this year, which the hospital hopes will be approved by the end of this year.
Representatives previously stated at public meetings that the plan was to open the new hospital on East 13th Street in 2020 but Beckstrom said on Tuesday that the updated opening date is by 2022.