Pols, Bellevue doctors push for speed camera legislation

Aug9 speed cameras Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman blamed his own chamber for the camera shutoffs. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Surgeons and local elected officials gathered at Bellevue Hospital last Thursday, urging the State Senate to pass legislation that would preserve speed cameras around schools.

Speed cameras in 120 school zones lost their ability to issue speeding violations last month because the State Senate did not extend the program by the July 25th deadline. Advocates at Bellevue were pushing Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to call a special session so Senators could vote on legislation that has already passed in the Assembly, where it was sponsored by Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

Glick’s bill in the Assembly allows for speed cameras in 50 additional school zones a year for the next three years and extends the program through 2022. Democrats had originally proposed expanding the program to 750 school zones but said they reduced the number to appease Republicans.

“We reduced the number of cameras and reduced the radius the cameras cover,” Glick said. “We added signage so people know that there are cameras. We’ve given so much deference to speeders. We could give at least a modicum of the same concern for school children.”

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Asbestos cleanup underway at future home to Beth Israel

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Eye & Ear Infirmary as seen from Second Avenue (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

During a day of picketing by unionized nurses and other employees of Beth Israel last month, one longtime employee told us that demolition of the site that is to become the future, smaller hospital has been delayed thanks to asbestos. In response, she said, employees who are awaiting the renewal of their contracts in September, have been told they may need to stick around longer than planned at the First Avenue flagship building, which is slowly being emptied of different departments.

Asked about this, a spokesperson for Mount Sinai confirmed the presence of asbestos at the future hospital, which will be located where there is currently another of the network’s hospitals, New York Eye & Ear Infirmary’s residential building, on East 13th Street and Second Avenue. However, she indicated the project is moving on schedule.

“The scheduled demolition and abatement of this building continues as planned and is projected to be completed this fall,” said Lucia Lee. “Our architects, designers and construction firms have been hired and working diligently on the planning. Once the demo is completed we will begin the first construction phase of the new building, pending approvals, including the Certificate of Need (CON). In the meantime, the current Beth Israel hospital remains open and fully accessible to the community and will remain so until the new hospital is opened.”

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MSBI nurses protest to keep pensions intact

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Nurses and other 1199SEIU employees outside Mount Sinai Beth Israel on First Avenue (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As Mount Sinai continues its downsizing of Beth Israel’s facilities in preparation for a new hospital to eventually open on Second Avenue, nurses and other employees within the union 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East have been bracing for possible cuts to their benefits.

On Thursday, July 12, union members picketed outside hospitals throughout the city that have employees from 1199SEIU, including Beth Israel on First Avenue and 16th Street and Mount Sinai Downtown in Union Square, formerly Beth Israel’s Phillips Ambulatory Care Center.

At each facility, over a dozen nurses and other union employees marched or stood outside while chanting and holding signs starting shortly before noon.

“Up with the union, down with the bosses!” and “union busting is disgusting” were a couple of the chants shouted from behind a barricade on First Avenue.

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Art and robots will call new hospital home

A 37-foot dalmatian balancing a taxi on its nose greets patients outside the new Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On June 24, Kips Bay’s medical and science corridor will have one more hospital building, the 18-story Kimmel Pavilion at East 34th Street and First Avenue. The $1.2 billion facility, which is part of the NYU Langone Health campus, will include the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital, the first children’s hospital to open in New York City in nearly 15 years.

While still off limits to anyone but construction crews and some hospital brass on Monday, the site was opened briefly for press and others who wanted a tour of the building, which has been in the works for the past 10 years.

The hospital will be unique for a few reasons, one of which is the attention paid to art. “Spot,” a 37-foot sculpture of a Dalmatian balancing a real New York City taxi on its noise, designed by artist Donald Lipski, greets patients at the entrance to the children’s hospital. There are also a number of other sculptures throughout the facility, designed to reflect the light under high ceilings. Others, like a rooftop waffle cone and oversized tennis ball, were clearly designed with underage critics in mind.

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NY Infirmary for Women and Children founder honored with plaque

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, speaks at the plaque unveiling. (Photo by Harry Bubbins)

On Monday, Elizabeth Blackwell, who founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first hospital to be run by and for women, was commemorated with the unveiling of a historic plaque at 58 Bleecker Street. Blackwell was also the first woman doctor in America.

The Greenwich Village address was chosen because it was the original site of the infirmary, which was later moved to East 15th Street in Stuyvesant Square. The infirmary in more recent years was incorporated into New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. The infirmary had originally operated out of a house that’s still standing, though it was originally numbered 64 Bleecker Street.

Built in 1822-1823, the Federal style house was erected for James Roosevelt, the great-grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lived there until his death just ten years before Blackwell embarked on her groundbreaking effort. Blackwell’s hospital opened on May 12, 1857, the 37th birthday of Florence Nightingale, whom Blackwell had befriended earlier in her career. The hospital was open seven days a week and provided medical care for needy women and children free of charge.

Monday’s plaque unveiling, which took place almost 161 years to the day after the infirmary opened, was organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

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Women veterans told their brain injuries were just stress

Navy veteran Bridget Dolan said the misdiagnosing of traumatic brain injuries is common, in particular for women. (Photos by Photos by Hannah La Folette Ryan/VA Medical Center)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Navy veteran Bridget Dolan reached her breaking point when yet another doctor asked how her personal life was going after she ended up in the emergency room for vertigo and dizziness, all while dealing with a headache that never went away.

“I just laughed and said I couldn’t believe I was going through this again,” she said.

Dolan said she felt like she was walking around with a constant hangover after getting multiple concussions both during and before her Navy training. But none of the doctors over the last 22 years had picked up on the fact that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury until a doctor in the Veterans Affairs Medical Center told her to walk in a straight line with her eyes closed and she couldn’t.

“It was just a simple test that cost the VA no money,” she said. “That’s when I finally had somebody believe me.”

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Bellevue fighting to delay federal healthcare cuts

State Senator Brad Hoylman said he doubted his colleagues would support a increase in reimbursements to cover inflation. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Bellevue Hospital, along with all the other facilities that are part of the city’s public NYC Health + Hospitals network, are bracing for the impact of an expected loss in federal funding in the next couple of years.

The cuts have loomed on the horizon since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010. Hospitals including H+H had been receiving Disproportionate Share Hospital or DSH funding for uninsured and Medicaid patients, but when the ACA went into effect, the thinking in Washington was that hospitals wouldn’t continue to need it due to more people being covered.

However, as Bridgette Ingraham-Roberts, associate vice president for government and community relations and planning for H+H, told hospital staff and supporters on Friday, 1.1 million New Yorkers are still uninsured and H+H serves around 415,000 uninsured patients. (Together, there are about 700,000 uninsured and Medicaid recipients in the health system.)

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When a Stuyvesant Square hospital was run entirely by women doctors

The Infirmary for Women and Children prior to a move to a nearby building in Stuyvesant Square (Photo from hospital archives, courtesy of New York Presbyterian)

By Sabina Mollot

Nearly seven decades before Mount Sinai Beth Israel began the process of transitioning to a new, smaller hospital facility, another neighborhood hospital was also planning a move — but this place was unique in that it was staffed entirely by women doctors.

That hospital was the New York Infirmary, which had first opened its doors on May 12, 1857 as the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. It was founded by the English-born Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to become a doctor in the United States. Its mission, along with healing the city’s sick and poor, was also to educate women to become medical professionals. Its first location was in a house in Greenwich Village, though it moved to Stuyvesant Square in 1858 when it outgrew that space.

There it remained for 90 years, but not long after the nearby apartment complexes of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were built, the hospital once again needed more space. It had been operating out of several antiquated buildings with an address of 321 East 15th Street.

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Former Beth Israel doctor charged with sexually assaulting patients

Former Mount Sinai Beth Israel Chief of Palliative Care Division Ricardo Cruciani

By Sabina Mollot

A former high-ranking doctor at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, who recently pleaded guilty to committing numerous sexual assaults of female patients at another hospital he worked at, is now facing charges of assaulting six other patients at Beth Israel.

The allegations include rape, forceful kissing and groping during the time Ricardo Cruciani, now 63, served as Beth Israel’s Chief of the Palliative Care Division. He was employed at the hospital from 2002-2014.

At that time, he was responsible for administering treatment to patients afflicted with chronic and debilitating pain disorders that are hard to find treatment for.

After leaving Beth Israel, Cruciani worked at Capital Health Medical Center in New Jersey and later Pennsylvania’s Drexel University neurology department.

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Sandy-related construction still ongoing at VA Medical Center

Work includes replacing elevators along with the entire electrical system as part of a $207 million federal relief package. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It was over five years ago when Superstorm Sandy flooded much of Manhattan’s East Side, crippling hospitals in Bedpan Alley. But it was the VA Medical Center on East 23rd Street that fared the worst, closing for six months.

Today, thanks to $207 million in federal relief money, the veterans’ hospital, while fully operational, is still undergoing work to replace systems that need to be upgraded rather than just repaired in the event of a future catastrophe.

Martina Parauda, director of VA NY Harbor Healthcare System (which includes local facilities including the Manhattan one), spoke to veterans about some of the ongoing projects at a town hall meeting on Tuesday morning.

The massive floodwall that began construction in 2015 is mostly done, including parts that can’t be seen like underwater pumps. It was originally supposed to be completed in 2016, but the VA has previously said underground excavation proved to be more complicated than expected.

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Flu cases double at Bellevue, Doctors say: Just get the shot

Bellevue Hospital offers the flu vaccine free to New Yorkers without insurance or who are under-insured throughout flu season.

By Sabina Mollot

Over 5,000 New Yorkers have become bedridden with the flu this season, according to Senator Charles Schumer.

Calling it a “historic outbreak,” on Monday, Schumer called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to designate a special “domestic flu surveillance team” for the state, which he believes will help “augment the work of inundated hospitals and budget-strained localities.”

Locally, the increase is being seen at Bellevue Hospital, where doctors have already seen 200 patients with confirmed cases of the flu, up from 100 for the entire season last year. Out of the 200 positive tests, 60 people were admitted to the hospital, while the rest went home. In a typical season, 100 people come in with the flu and 20-40 get admitted.

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Prescription meds are absolutely worsening opioid crisis: MSBI doc

Mount Sinai Beth Israel has the world’s oldest and largest opioid treatment program. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday, the mayor announced a lawsuit targeting major pharmaceutical companies, who he said have contributed to the city’s opioid explosion by getting people hooked on prescription drugs.

In 2016, more than 1,000 people in New York City died in a drug overdose that involved an opioid, the highest year on record. Additionally, according to city data, more New Yorkers died from opioid overdoses last year than from car accidents and homicides combined.

The suit is asking for a half million dollars to cover current and future costs to combat the crisis at hospitals not to mention costs relating to courtrooms and the morgue.

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Stuyvesant Town Mount Sinai Practice now open

(Pictured) David Leeds, aide to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; Margaret Pastuszko, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Integration Officer, Mount Sinai Health System; Kelly Cassano, Chief of Ambulatory Care, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Jeremy Boal, MD, President, Mount Sinai Downtown and Chief Medical Officer, Mount Sinai Health System; State Senator Brad Hoylman; Council Member Keith Powers; Susan Steinberg, President of the Stuyvesant Town / Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association; Claude Winfield, Vice-Chair, Local Community Advisory Board, Chair, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Community Advisory Council; Rick Hayduk, CEO, General Manager, StuyTown Property Services; Abigail Chen, Senior Medical Director, Mount Sinai Doctors Downtown Faculty Practice; Elvis DeLeon, Vice President, Ambulatory Operations, Mount Sinai Doctors Downtown (Photo courtesy of The Mount Sinai Health System)

Mount Sinai Doctors Stuyvesant Town, a new multi-specialty practice at 518 East 20th Street, was officially opened last Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Featuring state-of-the-art exam rooms and imaging services, the practice will offer extended weekday and weekend hours for both walk-in and scheduled appointments.

“Serving the downtown community is our top priority and our vast ambulatory network, one of the largest in lower Manhattan, makes this possible,” said Jeremy Boal, MD, the president of the MountSinai Downtown Network, who is also a resident of Peter Cooper Village.

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New Beth Israel building may be built higher

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Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai pictured at a public meeting in June 2016 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

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.”

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THANK YOU: Generous T&V readers donate over 400 toys to holiday drive

Dr. Bonnie Robbins, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, with some of the donated toys (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Readers of Town & Village have once again made the holidays a little brighter for children stuck in hospital rooms as well as well as other children in need by donating 406 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

The toys will be distributed throughout the pediatric department of Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where some young patients are awaiting surgery, as well as to the children of patients who utilize the hospital’s network of opioid treatment centers. The vast majority of the patients are low-income.

“These toys mean so much to our families, many of whom struggle during the holiday season to make it a special time for their kids,” said Bonnie Robbins, PhD, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “These gifts go a long way to giving our children a truly happy holiday.”

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