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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Council Member Dan Garodnick with Anita Chanko, widow of Mark Chanko, a former Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper resident whose medical treatment and death was filmed for a reality show without permission, Mark’s daughter Pamela, his son Kenneth, Kenneth’s wife Barbara, State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Edward Braunstein of Queens (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Over 30 members of the City Council are calling on hospitals to respect patients’ privacy, in response to the stunning case of a man who was struck by a truck only to then have his medical treatment and death filmed for an ABC reality show, “NY Med.”
The man was Mark Chanko, at one time a resident of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. His family, who never authorized any filming of his treatment, has sued the hospital, New York Presbyterian, and ABC. Arguments for the case are expected to be heard in September at the Court of Appeals.
While there is currently legislation pending at the state level that would prohibit hospitals filming patients without obtaining prior consent, the Council said it was asking hospitals to take that step voluntarily. The Council members wrote a letter that was sent to all New York hospitals asking them not to film patients or allow third parties to film patients for entertainment purposes. Or, if they do, the Council members said hospitals should at least make sure they get prior permission to do so.
The letter was also written in response to news that a reality show similar to “NY Med” would soon begin filming at a Boston hospital.
Mark Chanko with son Ken on a family cruise in 2006
In the “NY Med” episode, Chanko’s face was blurred and his voice altered but those who knew him, including his widow Anita, recognized him immediately when she watched the show.
At a press conference at City Hall, she recalled how he’d asked, “Does my wife know I’m here?’ Whoever answered him said, ‘I don’t know.’” Since then, Anita said she’s had the segment featuring her husband pop up in her mind at unexpected moments. At these times, all of the evening’s events play out, starting from when her husband mentions wanting to run to the deli to pick up milk and bananas, to shortly afterwards, when the doorman at the couple’s building in Yorkville told Anita she needed to come downstairs, to then seeing Chanko lying in a gurney that she wasn’t allowed to get near.
“It’s a PTSD (experience),” Anita said. “It comes in unprompted. Watch a man die, now we’re going to sell you a car. Now we’re going to sell you some soap.”
When viewing the episode, which she said no one from the network or hospital warned her would be aired, she felt like she was reliving his death all over again. When the doctor told her and other family members that attempts to save Chanko were unsuccessful, he hadn’t told them he was wearing a microphone or that the conversation would be part of a show.
“We don’t want for this to happen to other people,” said Ken Chanko, Mark’s son, a teacher, who’s also a former film critic for Town & Village.
Council Member Dan Garodnick called shows like “NY Med” and its Boston spinoff, “Save My Life: Boston Trauma,” a “crude window into people’s medical care.
“Patients in our hospitals deserve to know that their sensitive moments will not be used for entertainment,” he said. “We deserve better from our medical institutions.”
Garodnick added that the Council will soon be issuing a report card for hospitals, “so you’ll know which hospitals will protect your privacy and which won’t.”
Last Thursday, Garodnick posted a petition on change.org calling on hospitals to not film patients. As of Monday it was signed over 500 times.
At the press conference, Council members also expressed their support for state legislation that would prevent future incidents like the one experienced by the Chankos.
Legislation that was authored by Assembly Member Edward Braunstein would create a private right of action for the unauthorized filming and broadcasting of hospital patients. It’s in the midst of some revising, though, with Braunstein explaining that the revisions were in response to broadcast associations’ concerns that some of the language was too vague. “But we’re confident we’ll be able to complete it next year,” said Braunstein, whose district is in Queens.
State Senator Liz Krueger, who’s co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate, said there’s no way the presence of a TV camera wouldn’t impact the quality of patient care.
“(If a doctor says) ‘we need to get over there,’ and the director says, ‘We need a better shot over there’ — we’re not supposed to have that situation,” she said.
State Senator Brad Hoylman, another bill co-sponsor, added, “Shame on Dr. Oz and others for violating their Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.” Dr. Mehmet Oz is featured on “NY Med.”
A spokesperson for New York Presbyterian previously declined to comment on the Chankos’ litigation. A request for comment on the Council’s letter was referred to the Greater New York Hospital Association, whose president, Kenneth E. Raske, issued a statement indicating his agreement with the Council’s suggestions.
“Greater New York Hospital Association and its member hospitals agree that hospitals should not allow patients to be filmed for entertainment purposes without their prior consent,” Raske said. “Further, all New York hospitals take their legal obligations concerning patient privacy very seriously. Both New York State and federal law prohibit the use or disclosure of identifiable patient information without the prior consent of the patient or a suitable patient representative. New York’s hospitals will continue to vigorously safeguard the privacy of patients and their families.”
14th Street between Avenues B and C during Sandy (Photographer unknown)
By Sabina Mollot
State Senator Brad Hoylman, along with other East Side elected officials, has been petitioning the state’s new storm recovery program, which has been focusing its efforts on restoring and protecting Lower Manhattan from future Sandy-like disasters, to include areas further north — in particular Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, Waterside Plaza and the hospitals along Bedpan Alley.
Through the program, New York Rising, which was launched by Governor Cuomo, Lower Manhattan was awarded $25 million to implement community-input-driven strategies to rebuild downtown and strengthen the area against future extreme weather.
However, as Hoylman noted in testimony he gave to the Lower Manhattan Community Planning Committee on October 30, areas as far north as the mid-30s on the East Side and the high 20s on the West Side also saw serious damage as a result of the superstorm. Just a few examples include the flooding and months-long shutdowns at hospitals including NYU Langone, Bellevue and the VA Medical Center, loss of numerous services for months in 15 buildings in Peter Cooper Village and two in Stuyvesant Town, as well as the destruction of the management office there, and on the West Side, the flooding of half a dozen residential buildings that required evacuations, including one Chelsea building housing 50 people with HIV/AIDS.
In mid-October, the planning committee for NY Rising agreed to extend the borders of its catchment area from Canal Street west of Essex Street up to Delancey Street east of Essex up to all of Manhattan south of 14th Street, so Hoylman said he hoped the committee would also consider expanding the area further north to include Bedpan Alley.
The ongoing effort by NY Rising is “laudable,” said Hoylman, “but it excludes major swaths of Manhattan
The East River flows west under the FDR Drive last October 29. (Photographer unknown)
that were damaged by Sandy including Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and especially the hospitals, which serve the whole city. I think our community above 14th Street is a natural fit for this conversation.”
Hoylman’s senatorial district includes ST/PCV, Waterside, Chelsea and Greenwich Village, areas that saw some of Manhattan’s heaviest damage last October.
Especially important in planning for the future of those areas, noted Hoylman, is the protection of the elderly population.
“The seniors in Peter Cooper and Stuy Town were essentially cut off from civilization,” he said.
Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Vasquez, Assembly Members Brian Kavanagh and Richard Gottfried, State Senator Liz Krueger and Council Members Dan Garodnick, Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez have also been in support of the area north of 14th Street’s inclusion in the planning and on October 22, all signed onto a letter, as did Hoylman, that was sent to Seth Diamond, the director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. At this time, Hoylman said they’ve yet to receive a response.