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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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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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.

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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Mt. Sinai: Renovating Beth Israel would have cost $1.3 B

Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai, speaks at a meeting held by Community Boards 3 and 6 about the plans for a new Mount Sinai Beth Israel facility.

Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government for Mount Sinai, speaks at a meeting held by Community Boards 3 and 6 about the plans for a new Mount Sinai Beth Israel facility. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Following the news that Mount Sinai would be moving and downsizing Beth Israel, reps from the hospital network met with neighborhood residents to insist that simply renovating the First Avenue hospital was not an option.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel met with Community Boards 3 and 6 earlier this month to share details on the plan to relocate most of the campus on First Avenue to a much smaller facility at East 14th Street and Second Avenue, adjacent to the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Brad Korn, director for community and government affairs at Mount Sinai, along with Brad Beckstrom, senior director for community and government affairs at the company, told committee members and residents of the community that the main reason for the downsizing is the advanced age of the facility on First Avenue at East 16th Street.

“This is an aging, outmoded infrastructure,” Beckstrom said. “We get the question, ‘is it possible to renovate?’ But it would cost $1.3 billion and would take many years.”

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Beth Israel will no longer offer cardiac surgery

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

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

By Sabina Mollot

Following the official news of Beth Israel’s downsizing to a 70-bed facility, a nurse who’s worked at Beth Israel for many years called Town & Village to say the hospital will be losing its cardiac surgery department.

She said it was right before the Memorial Day weekend when she and others were told that the cardiac surgery department would be moved offsite to St. Luke’s. This follows other department downsizings, like neonatal and pediatrics.

While some heart cardiac services would remain, patients needing actual surgery would have to be taken to the facility on Amsterdam and 114th Street, she said.

“That’s 100 blocks,” said the nurse. “Have you ever driven in New York City?”

The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, added that she thought this was unsafe for patients, noting that sometimes, after being given a stent, patients will require immediate surgery.

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Beth Israel will move to 14th St. in smaller space

Mount Sinai Beth Israel has been in its current location since 1929. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Mount Sinai Beth Israel has been in its current location since 1929. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

On Wednesday, the Mount Sinai Health System confirmed reports that Beth Israel would be downsizing, due to its property’s aging infrastructure and changing needs in the healthcare industry, but also said it was creating a new downtown “network” of facilities that will include a smaller Beth Israel hospital on 14th Street and Second Avenue.

The new facility, which is expected to have a price tag of $250 million, will be adjacent to the Mount Sinai’s New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and the two hospitals will share some infrastructure. Some of that money will go towards “enhanced” services at Eye and Ear. The new hospital will have 70 beds and a “state-of-the art” emergency department. This is a drastic reduction from its current number of beds, which is 856.

In its announcement, Mount Sinai cited a lack of demand for those beds, even after the closure of St. Vincent’s in 2010. In fact, the company said, demand for inpatient beds at its own hospital and others, including Bellevue and NYU Langone, has declined.

“On average, less than sixty percent of the hospital’s licensed beds are occupied and patient volume at the financially troubled hospital has decreased by double digits since 2012,” the hospital said.

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Mt. Sinai says it’s not closing Beth Israel

The hospital says more facilities will be built but hasn’t said if any will be lost. Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The hospital says more facilities will be built but hasn’t said if any will be lost. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Following a news report in The Villager last week that the main campus of Mount Sinai Beth Israel would close (leaving some services like the ambulatory care center and the methadone clinics), the hospital, while not outright denying a closure of that facility, insisted that services will continue and, in fact, be enhanced.

Meanwhile, local elected officials have chimed in to say they’d press the Mount Sinai system for some transparency on its plans. This includes Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh who said that even if Mount Sinai is planning a closure, there is a lengthy process the mammoth medical system would have to go through at the state level, so nothing should be considered a done deal.

The Villager story, which cited three (and later four) anonymous nurses, who’d been warned about a looming closure but were instructed to keep their mouths shut, followed a story in Capital New York last fall in which Mount Sinai’s executives only admitted they wanted to downsize.

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