Attorney running to replace Mendez

Jorge Vasquez, a lifetime Lower East Sider and attorney (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Lower East Side resident Jorge Vasquez has his lifelong neighborhood to thank for his aspiring City Council candidacy. Vasquez, an attorney who is running to replace term-limited City Councilmember Rosie Mendez in District 2, said that it was the local Boys & Girls Republic, as well as his mother’s influence, that got him involved in community advocacy.

“It was a tradition with me and my mom on Election Day where we would wake up and I would go with her to the polls,” he said, recalling that he and his mother also canvassed for Antonio Pagan, the City Councilmember for District 2 in the 1990s prior to Mendez’s predecessor, Margarita Lopez.

Vasquez said that he started attending programming at the Boys & Girls Republic, which offer youth the opportunity to participate in self-government, at age six and was putting bills together by age 10. When Vasquez joined, the program was known as the Boys Brotherhood Republic but the program later became part of the Henry Street Settlement and was renamed the Boys & Girls Republic.

“Those programs give youth the opportunity to be active in the community,” he said. “Being part of democracy, and even to be familiar with the courtroom and jury rules, is so important. I wouldn’t be an attorney without access to these programs and the advocacy it instilled in me.”

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Neighbors seeking input in Beth Israel downsizing plan

Judy Wessler, community health planner

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Despite the usually-slower summer months, community groups have remained focused on Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s downsizing plan, which includes drastically reducing the number of hospital beds. The Gramercy-Stuyvesant Independent Democratic Club hosted a recent forum to provide updates, although representatives from local hospitals, including MSBI, were unavailable to attend the meeting.

Community Board 3 Chair Jamie Rogers said that the community board, along with Boards 2 and 6, has recently been involved in a working group organized by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

“The main asks (of the group) are to maximize community participation and make sure that the State Department of Health is actually listening to our concerns,” Rogers said. “The DOH isn’t the most community-minded of our bureaucracies. We have trouble getting them to our events.”

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‘Safe Haven’ for homeless to open on East 17th St.

327 East 17th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The city is planning to open a new “Safe Haven” facility to house chronically homeless individuals in a Stuyvesant Square building that’s owned by Mount Sinai.

The building was previously used by Beth Israel as an HIV/AIDS hospice/residential treatment center. It is currently empty, located at 327 East 17th Street between First and Second Avenues. At one time, the site was a home rented by the Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, though it was later demolished.

Word of the proposal, which is aimed at housing 28 homeless people and helping them transition to regular housing, got out on Tuesday with an email from Community Board 6 to various community organizations.

According to the email, CB6 has plenty of questions about the plan, including why it’s coming to the area when there’s already an 850-bed shelter on East 30th Street and other, local smaller shelters, and concern over the location’s proximity to neighborhood schools. The email also noted there was no guarantee the homeless individuals would be people from the district.

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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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Police Watch: Senior stabbed in store robbery, man arrested for flipping table

SENIOR STABBED IN SIXTH AVENUE STORE ROBBERY
Police are on the lookout for three robbers, one of whom stabbed a 63-year-old man working at Xcellent DVD store at 515 Sixth Avenue before the trio made off with the cash register.
The men entered the Sunday at 4:40 a.m. and one of the suspects stabbed the victim in his left side before taking the cash register, which contained an undetermined amount of cash. The suspects fled the store West 13th Street towards heading west towards Seventh Avenue. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was treated and released.
One of the suspects was described as a black man, approximately 5’8” tall, 160 lbs., and was last seen wearing a grey sweatshirt and a surgical mask. The second suspect was described as a white or Hispanic man, approximately 6’0” tall, 170 lbs., and was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket. The third suspect is described as a white man who was last seen wearing a red and black flannel jacket. Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the website or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.

MAN ARRESTED FOR FLIPPING TABLE AFTER DEMANDING MILLER LITE
Police arrested 33-year-old Anthony Williams after he allegedly flipped a table and injured an employee inside Bistango at 415 Third Avenue last Friday at 11:15 p.m. Police said that Williams walked into the restaurant and demanded a Miller Lite. An employee told Williams that the restaurant doesn’t sell Miller Lite and asked him to leave. In response, Williams allegedly flipped a table over, causing bruising to the victim’s ribs. Police said that multiple glasses and plates broke when Williams knocked the table over. Williams allegedly fled the restaurant and when he was stopped by police, he allegedly swung a bag containing two beers at the officer. He was ultimately arrested in front of 535 Second Avenue. He was charged with resisting arrest, assault and criminal mischief.

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Thank you – Over 250 toys donated to T&V drive

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel (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 the families utilizing the outpatient clinics run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel by donating over 250 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

Gifts for kids of all ages were donated this year, from board games to books to stuffed animals to arts and crafts supplies to games sure to cheer any fan of Star Wars.

Town & Village’s partners on this longstanding community tradition are Blackstone/Stuy Town Property Services, the management of Waterside Plaza and M&T Bank on First Avenue and 23rd Street, who all provided convenient toy dropoff sites.

Bonnie Robbins, PhD, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, has said in recent years the hospital has faced some difficulty in getting enough toys to meet the needs of patients. This is due to the economy as well as other factors like drives for larger organizations competing for the support of individuals as well as toy retailers.

The hospital’s clinics are located throughout the city with three in the Kips Bay/Gramercy area, and for many patient families, parents often have to choose between clothes for their children or toys.

Fortunately, the turnout of this year’s drive, Robbins said, will be a big help.

“We are enormously proud and grateful to be a part of this supportive, generous community,” said Robbins. “Once again residents and businesses have opened their hearts to our children. This very successful toy drive helps us to provide a happy holiday to our kids and families, and it would not be possible without the support of our fabulous neighbors.”

The staff of Town & Village would also like to say thank you and happy holidays to our readers, SPS, Waterside and M&T Bank.

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.

Elderly woman knocked down for her bag near Union Square

Robbery suspect

Robbery suspect

Cops are looking for a female mugger who knocked down a 90-year-old woman in a failed attempt to snatch her bag.

Police said on Tuesday at around noon at 5th Avenue and West 12th Street, the suspect approached the elderly victim from behind and tried to grab her duffle bag from the front of her utility cart. When the victim tried to stop her, the other woman knocked her down to the ground and continued to pull at the bag. The victim was able to hold onto it though and the robber gave up, fleeing eastbound on East 12th Street. The victim suffered lacerations to her right arm and right middle finger. She was treated at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, and has since been released.

The suspect is described as white or Hispanic, with a tattoo on her left arm. She was last seen wearing a black tank top, red pants, black shoes and she carried a black purse.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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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