NYS Dept. of Health agrees with Mt. Sinai on Beth Israel downsizing

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

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The New York State Department of Health has presented data that supports Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s reasoning for downsizing due to beds going underused.

The DOH discussed its own findings at a public meeting with the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) last Thursday.

PHHPC is charged with making decisions concerning the establishment and transfer of ownership of healthcare facilities and makes recommendations to the Commissioner of Health concerning major projects and service changes, and heard presentations from the State DOH as well as from Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

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Advocates call for transparency on MSBI downsizing

Anthony Feliciano, director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Non-profit organizations and healthcare advocates are urging the community to demand transparency when it comes to the planned downsizing of Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

The subject was discussed at a meeting held by the Lower Manhattan chapter of the New York Progressive Action Network, a coalition of progressive activist groups, at the property service workers’ union 32BJ SEIU’s headquarters on West 18th Street last Thursday.

Anthony Feliciano, director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System, moderated the meeting, which was attended by over 100 people. He encouraged the public to contact the Department of Health about the project and demand a community needs study, which the hospital system has said it will not be doing.

Arthur Schwartz, the Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village, said that residents should also demand an environmental impact study and encouraged the neighborhood to resist zoning changes for the areas where current Beth Israel buildings will be sold, to prevent developers from building luxury high-rises.

“At St. Vincent’s, we lost because they went into bankruptcy but Mount Sinai doesn’t want to take Beth Israel into bankruptcy,” Schwartz said, referring to the closure of St. Vincent’s in Greenwich Village in 2010. “The state has power here and we have to demand transparency during this process. It’s basically (Mount Sinai’s) own plan and not based at all on input from elected officials or the community.”

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Pols frustrated over lack of input from community in MSBI downsizing

Mount Sinai Downtown President Dr. Jeremy Boal (right) answers a question asked by Council Member Corey Johnson. Pictured at left is Brad Korn, director of community and government affairs at Mount Sinai. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community members and elected officials have expressed concern about the steep reduction of beds at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, once the hospital is downsized as planned. At a forum held in the Union Square hospital facility last Thursday, State Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Corey Johnson brought up the number of beds, and Hoylman added that he was concerned about a lack of community input on the plan, as were representatives for Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilmember Dan Garodnick.

When Hoylman criticized the lack of community involvement in the issue and asked if any of the plans would be modified based on input from residents, Mount Sinai Downtown President Dr. Jeremy Boal admitted that the plan would not.

“We’re skiing in front of an avalanche,” he said, citing financial concerns for Beth Israel. “We’re losing money at such a rapid clip that if we take a giant pause, the community will be left with nothing.”

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Beth Israel’s Gilman Hall sold and may become dorm

Gilman Hall (photo via Google Maps)

By Sabina Mollot

Gilman Hall, the building at Beth Israel Medical Center’s First Avenue campus, that was put on the market last summer has sold for $87 million to an owner who plans to turn it into student housing.

Asset manager CIM Group announced on Tuesday that it bought the 146,000-square-foot Gilman Hall Tower and contiguous parcels.

“The Gilman Hall site represents an exceptional opportunity to reposition and modernize a significant property in an exciting location currently experiencing substantial public and private investment,” said Avi Shemesh, co-founder and principal of CIM Group. “While the surrounding neighborhood offers desirable amenities and excellent public transportation that complements a variety of potential uses, we believe the site is particularly well suited for a student housing and educational facility use for which several institutions have expressed interest.”

A spokesperson for CIM said the company wouldn’t be commenting further on the future of the property.

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In new book, Bellevue doctor says physicians need to listen to patients

Feb23 Danielle Ofri

Bellevue Doctor Danielle Ofri (photo courtesy of author)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Dr. Danielle Ofri, PhD, MD, a Kips Bay resident and Bellevue Hospital doctor who’s authored four nonfiction books, has just released her fifth, on the need for better communication between patient and doctor.

The book was inspired by a number of her own patients’ inability to tell someone else what their concerns are coupled with doctors’ habits of not listening as carefully as they should.

She gave one example of how after a while she began tuning out a patient “who was very demanding of my time,” Ofri said. He’d annoy her by leaving multiple, angry messages on her answering machine demanding to see her right away. His habit of panicking and the constant messages wore on Ofri, and while she knew he had a bad heart, she was surprised when one day he actually collapsed in her office.

“He was nervous about his heart and the terror of dying animated him,” she said. “I’m hearing obnoxious and angry demands and was not recognizing his fear of death,” Ofri admitted.

This example is mentioned in the book, What Patients Say; What Doctors Hear ($25, $24 as an e-book).

Ofri, who’s worked at Bellevue for 20 years, said often patients are too embarrassed to discuss their deeper concerns with their doctor like the real reasons they’re not taking their prescribed medication. Affordability is often, though not always a factor.

“Patients are very shy about saying it costs too much or they’re splitting it in half or there’s an eating disorder or domestic violence.”

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Beth Israel plans to stop delivering babies in May

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

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

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.

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Mount Sinai practice will open in Stuy Town

The Mount Sinai practice will open at 516-518 East 20th Street. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Mount Sinai practice will open at 516-518 East 20th Street. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

As part of the $500 million Beth Israel rebuild effort, including the creation of a “Mount Sinai Downtown” network, the hospital system announced that it will be opening a practice in Stuyvesant Town.

The practice, to be located at 516-518 East 20th Street, will offer primary care and specialty services. Construction is expected to be completed on the space by the fall and it is expected to open in the fall. Currently the 4,000 square foot space is vacant with its windows papered up. Formerly it was home to Berkely Sutton Cleaners, which moved elsewhere in Stuy Town, and a key control room for the complex.

According to a press release, this center will “help achieve Mount Sinai’s goal of transforming and embracing a new model of care that focuses on serving patients in the most appropriate setting.”

Mount Sinai’s planned downsizing of Beth Israel involves transitioning to a mostly outpatient model.

The practice will also offer pediatric services, and as for the specialty care services, they are to be determined “in consultation with Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, surrounding communities and interest groups,” the hospital said, and “will also be offered on a rotating basis.”

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Fire at NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)

By Sabina Mollot and Maria Rocha-Buschel

A fire broke out at the NYU Langone Medical Center on Wednesday at around noon, on a construction site at the facility.

A spokesperson for the hospital said it was not a patient area and no patients were injured in the fire, which was extinguished by 1 p.m.

The fire started on the seventh floor rooftop where a new hospital building, scheduled to open in 2018, is under construction.

According to spokesperson Lisa Grenier, the fire was confined to this area. However, as a precaution, some patients in rooms on the north side of Tisch Hospital facing the construction were moved to the south side of the floor.

“They have since been located back to their rooms,” Grenier said. “Currently we are investigating cause and the extent of damage.”

An emailed alert from the city said area residents should expect smoke, traffic delays due to the presence of emergency responders. Neighbors were advised to close their windows and not linger outside.

The hospital is located at First Avenue and East 30th Street.

Bellevue bariatric patients show off svelte new figures

Bariatric patients return to the hospital to participate in a runway show. (Pictured) Hospital staff involved in the event (Photos by Amy DiLeo)

Bariatric patients return to the hospital to participate in a runway show. (Pictured) Hospital staff involved in the event (Photos by Amy DiLeo)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Bariatric surgery patients at Bellevue Hospital got a chance to strut their stuff and showcase their accomplishments at the department’s annual runway show on November 17. Patients in the program, many of whom have lost more than 50 pounds with the help of the surgery as well as guidance from dieticians and psychologists on staff, invited their family and friends to the show to celebrate. Happening just a week before Thanksgiving, bariatric surgeon Dr. J.K. Saunders said that participants were unfazed by the upcoming holiday season.

“It can be difficult but people around them like friends and family are usually very supportive because it’s for their health,” he said. “There’s a lot of support here as well.”

Saunders said that most of the patients at the Center for Bariatric Surgery and Weight Management are referred by friends but medical doctors, who traditionally discourage the surgery in favor of diet and exercise, have become more open to the practice.

“A lot of doctors don’t necessarily believe in surgery for weight loss but the patients who get it really can’t lose the weight otherwise,” Saunders said. “They’ve tried literally everything they can try.”

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City proposes reconfiguring 2 playgrounds as part of East Side flood protection plan

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Asser Levy Playground (pictured) and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground will be impacted by the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project. (Photo courtesy of Parks Department)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The city has been exploring options to redesign Asser Levy Playground and Murphy’s Brother’s Playground, since both will be affected by the construction of flood protection along the East Side of Manhattan from East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street.

Earlier in the month, representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency discussed the proposals at a community meeting held at Washington Irving High School.

Carrie Grassi, the deputy director of planning for the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, mentioned how the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project will run adjacent to both parks and construction will disturb activities there.

However, since the city is only in the concept design stage with the project, Grassi said that decisions for all aspects aren’t necessarily final yet. One such instance is the placement of the floodwall as it approaches the Asser Levy Playground. One configuration has the wall bordering the park along the FDR Drive, turning along East 25th Street and connecting with the floodwall that the VA Hospital is working on.

“But some feel that would be too imposing,” Grassi said.

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PCV doctor named president of Mount Sinai Downtown

Jeremy Boal, MD, is the new president of Mount Sinai Downtown, which includes Beth Israel and the Eye and Ear Infirmary. (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

Jeremy Boal, MD, is the new president of Mount Sinai Downtown, which includes Beth Israel and the Eye and Ear Infirmary. (Photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

By Sabina Mollot

On the heels of Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s president, Suzanne Somerville, stepping down, a Peter Cooper Village resident who began his career as a resident in the hospital network 25 years ago has been named the president of Mount Sinai Downtown. This includes the current and future Beth Israel as well as the Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Additionally, Jeremy Boal, MD, who currently serves as executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Mount Sinai Health System, is being promoted to executive vice president and chief clinical officer. Though the transition has already begun, the appointment having been announced internally last Wednesday, he won’t be fully assuming the new role until January, 2017. Prior to his current role, he served as chief medical officer at North Shore LIJ (now Northwell Health).

Earlier this week, Boal spoke with Town & Village about community concerns such as potential loss of services from the neighborhood, the status of the medical giant’s real estate and the enhanced offerings that have been promised to patients at the future, much smaller hospital building adjacent to Eye and Ear.

Since 2003, Boal has been a resident of Peter Cooper where he lives with his family, which includes two daughters, one 13, the other 16.

The interview, edited for length, is below.

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Mt. Sinai begins $500M rebuild

oct13-beith-israel-rendering

Rendering of new facility

Beth Israel president steps down

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, Mount Sinai announced the start of the first phase of its $500 million project to rebuild a much smaller Beth Israel hospital and create the new “Mount Sinai Downtown” network. Additionally, it was announced that Suzanne Somerville, Beth Israel’s president, is leaving her position.

“For over fifteen years, my husband and I have had a home on the East End of Long Island,” Somerville said in a written statement. “My husband has retired and I will be joining him in order to pursue new opportunities out East.”

She will remain in her role at the hospital until hospital brass identifies a successor.

“We are incredibly lucky to have had her as part of our team and very sad to see her go, but we understand her desire to make this transition and wish her all the best,” said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, CEO and president of the Mount Sinai Health System.

As for the downsizing of Beth Israel and expanded services elsewhere within the hospital network, this includes Union Square’s Phillips Ambulatory Care Center seeing some improvements and being rebranded as Mount Sinai Downtown Union Square.

The center is getting a new urgent care center and a new lobby. Construction is currently underway, and the facility’s lobby will be completed in the coming weeks, complete with concierge services to help patients find their way. New services to be offered at Union Square include endoscopy, disease management programs, and a Respiratory Institute. In mid-2017, Union Square’s second floor will be home to a new, comprehensive urgent care center, including pediatric care, with weekend and evening hours.

At Mount Sinai Downtown Chelsea Center (formerly Cancer Center West), Mount Sinai will be opening a brand new Women’s Cancer Center facility with integrated breast cancer and gynecology oncology services, upgraded technology and expanded mammography services. Construction at this location is almost complete.

As Town & Village previously reported, some more complex procedures and services will no longer be offered at Beth Israel, with patients being redirected to other facilities within the Mount Sinai system.

The transformation, as Mount Sinai has been referring to the project, will consist of expanded and renovated outpatient facilities at three major sites with more than 600 doctors, stretching from the East River to the Hudson River below 34th Street. “Mount Sinai Downtown” will be anchored by the Beth Israel inpatient hospital with operating and procedure rooms, and a brand-new state-of-the-art emergency department, located two blocks from the current hospital.

The transformation will also include a major investment to expand behavioral health services at Beth Israel’s Bernstein Pavilion and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai will also be enhanced. Beth Israel hospital will remain open until the new ED is fully operational at the new hospital.

Architectural firm Perkins Eastman is overseeing the design and construction of Mount Sinai’s new hospital. Pending approvals, demolition at the new site, adjacent to the Eye and Ear Infirmary, is expected to begin early 2017 with construction beginning early 2018. Construction is expected to be complete by late 2020.

Union pickets at NYU Langone Medical Center

Caregivers picketing last week (Photo courtesy of 1199 SIEU)

Caregivers picketing last week (Photo courtesy of 1199SEIU)

This story has been updated.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Unionized healthcare workers represented by 1199SEIU at NYU Langone last Wednesday formed a picket line, telling passersby about the medical center pulling out of the League of Voluntary Hospitals. The League acts as a bargaining agent for negotiations with various unions, including 1199.

Healthcare workers claim that the action is an attempt by NYU to cut benefits and that the hospital will eventually cut payments to the 1199 Health and Benefits Fund.

“NYU has put on the table that they want us to pay for our dependent healthcare,” pharmacy technician Jasmine Jeffrey said. “Being that I have five dependents, I won’t be able to pay for that healthcare, so I have to fight for that. I can’t let it go.”

The union insisted that the picket wasn’t a strike but was an “informational” picket to raise awareness about NYU’s attempts to change health benefits for workers.

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Medicaid office at Bellevue closed

By Sabina Mollot

A Town & Village reader alerted us last week to some outdated information online with regards to Medicaid services that ended up causing her to go to the wrong address for help on one of the summer’s hottest days.

The reader, a Stuy Town resident, said she’d read online that the most nearby Medicaid office was at 462 First Avenue inside Bellevue Hospital. But when she got there, she was informed that the location had been closed for two years.

“Not two days, not two weeks, two years,” she said. She was then redirected to the Medicaid office at 115 Chrystie Street on the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

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Beth Israel will no longer offer some complex procedures

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

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

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.

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