By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The new Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital planned for East 13th Street may be shorter than initially planned due to newly-discovered unused space at the adjacent New York Eye and Ear facility, representatives announced at a sparsely-attended Community Board 6 meeting this Tuesday.
“We discovered that there was more property available inside the New York Eye and Ear building, which allowed us to reconfigure what we’re going to do with the new building on 13th Street,” said Brad Korn, corporate director of community affairs for Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “We’re not changing any of the programs or promises we made on beds or anything like that, but it just makes it a little easier and will be a little less intrusive in the new build-up.”
Korn said at the meeting that the new space delayed the hospital from submitting a certificate of need, which was expected to be approved by the end of last year and will now likely be submitted by the middle of this year.
“(The new plan) will connect to the New York Eye and Ear building so it will become an integrated hospital,” said Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai.
Korn and Beckstrom announced at a Community Board 5 meeting last year that MSBI would be increasing the number of floors on the new building to accommodate additional beds if necessary so community board member Claude Winfield asked if the ability to build higher would still be available given this change.
“It allows for the contingency to expand beds in case it’s needed,” Korn said.
Beckstrom said that there was never a formal submitted plan for how high the building would be constructed initially and there is still no specific plan for how many floors the new facility will be.
As Town & Village previously reported, MSBI is also planning to move behavioral health services from the Bernstein Pavilion to a new space in the Lower East Side and Korn expanded on the hospital system’s decision to make that change at the CB6 meeting, explaining that renovating an old building wouldn’t allow Mount Sinai to offer the full scope of mental health services they were hoping to.
“(The Bernstein Pavilion) is a building that is not in the greatest of shape,” Korn said. “It’s one of those buildings that leaks when it doesn’t rain, it’s outdated and over 60 years old and hasn’t had the greatest upkeep. We could spend a lot of money and we still wouldn’t have a state-of-the-art facility, so given that we started looking for other property and identified 45 Rivington Street.”
Beckstrom said that all mental health services available at Bernstein will be moved to the Rivington location and the new space will allow them to add two additional levels of care in between inpatient and outpatient services, in addition to integration of primary care services.
The cost of renovations on an old building was also MSBI’s justification for planning the new facility at East 13th Street in the first place, with Korn and Beckstrom claiming that renovating the original facility would have cost $1.3 billion. The latest projection of the budget for the current project is $550 million.
Beckstrom said at the recent meeting that MSBI hopes to begin construction on the new facility by early 2020, with two to three years of construction time, adding that services offered at the current facility will be available up until the day the new hospital opens.
Beckstrom noted that in the last few years, pediatric services in addition to women’s health, the neo-natal intensive care unit and the pediatric intensive care unit have been moved elsewhere but services that are currently available, including surgical services and the emergency room, will remain available through construction.
The current 799-bed hospital will be downsized to 220, with 150 of those beds allocated to mental health services that will now be located on Rivington Street. The 649 medical-surgical beds in the original facility are being reduced to 70, which remains the same despite the recent adjustments to the plan.