Former Beth Israel Karpas Center will be demolished

311 First Avenue was included in last year’s sale of Gilman Hall to the CIM Group. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The building that used to house Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Karpas Health Information Center has been sold and will soon be demolished.

The new owner filed an application to demolish the four-story property at 311 First Avenue and 18th Street, last October, and scaffolding now surrounds the property. There is not yet an application for new development although the razing of the building, which also has nine residential units, was said to be in preparation for an unspecified “plan.”

CIM Group, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment group and private equity firm, through an LLC called 305 First Avenue (NY), bought the property last March for $27.5 million from Mount Sinai, according to Acris records.

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East 17th Street shelter will open in April

Bowery Residents Committee CEO Muzzy Rosenblatt speaks at a meeting on Tuesday about a Safe Haven shelter that’s now being renovated. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A new Safe Haven shelter the city is opening on East 17th Street in a former Beth Israel AIDS hospice is expected to be operational by early April, according to its operator, the Bowery Residents Committee.

Members of Community Board 6’s housing, homeless and human rights committee held a meeting about the shelter on Tuesday night, with BRC CEO Muzzy Rosenblatt providing updates. This was the first meeting on the subject since another one for neighborhood organizations was held last July.

At that time, Rosenblatt predicted that the shelter would be operational by Labor Day of last year after minor repairs but on Tuesday, he said renovations at the building, which is owned by Mount Sinai, were more extensive than anticipated.

“At that point, we hadn’t actually seen the elevator in the building but we were making projections based on previous city dealings with elevators,” he said. “Once we saw the elevator, we realized that it actually needed to be replaced, which takes longer because the elevator has to be site-specific, but that work is now underway and we don’t anticipate any further delays.”

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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

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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Hailing Access-a-Ride will get much easier with app

State Senator Liz Krueger with representatives of the MTA’s Paratransit agency and disability advocates at a forum held last Thursday (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Access-A-Ride, the method of public transportation relied upon by many disabled New Yorkers, will finally be brought up to speed, thanks to a new app.

Representatives from Paratransit, the branch of the MTA that operates “demand-response” service for customers with disabilities, have announced that the agency will be launching a unified app by next June to improve transparency and provide flexibility in scheduling rides.

Paratransit said this will allow passengers to reserve trips in advance to areas of the city covered by the subway, even if it’s just one hour in advance. The current system, meanwhile, forces users to reserve rides at least 24 hours in advance and with little recourse if rides are delayed or don’t show at all.

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Town & Village holding holiday toy drive

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel in last year’s drive (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Town & Village is holding a toy drive to help make the holidays brighter for children undergoing medical treatment during the holiday season as well as the children of families in outpatient programs run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Gifts will be accepted for children of all ages as long as they are new. Items for older boys are especially in high demand. No toy weapons, please.

Partnering with Town & Village on this effort are:

Stuyvesant Town Property Services, accepting toys at Resident Services, 276 First Avenue on the First Avenue Loop Road
Waterside Plaza management, accepting toys at the management office, 30 Waterside Plaza, and the Swim & Health Club, 35 Waterside Plaza
M&T Bank, accepting toys at the branch at First Avenue and 23rd Street.

Deadline to donate has been extended one day to Friday, December 15. Toys should be unwrapped.

Mount Sinai opens urgent care center at Union Square facility

Equipment at the new eye examination room (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Mount Sinai Beth Israel announced the opening of a new urgent care center in its Union Square facility earlier this week as part of the changes to the hospital amid the plan to downsize. The center officially opened on September 12 at Mount Sinai Union Square with seven standard exam rooms as well as an eye room and x-ray room.

Mount Sinai has been its renovating facilities south of 34th Street ahead of the plan to drastically reduce the number of beds in the hospital on First Avenue that representatives have said reflect changes in the healthcare industry, which is shifting towards outpatient care.

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UPDATED: Beth Israel community needs assessment survey open now through September 22

July10 Beth Israel in the distance

Beth Israel’s First Avenue building (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Mount Sinai, which has already begun the process of downsizing and relocating the Beth Israel Medical Center while creating a Mount Sinai downtown network, is seeking public input. The hospital network has put up an online community needs assessment survey, but it will only be open through September 20. A note on the website says it runs through today, but according to a representative for Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, the date was extended.

UPDATE: The closing date has since been extended again to Friday, September 22.


The survey can be accessed through a link  and it is available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

The smaller Beth Israel with reduce its number of beds from over 800 to 220 (70 hospital beds, plus 150 behavioral health beds that will remain at its Bernstein Pavilion). It will be located on East 14th Street and Second Avenue with a focus on an outpatient model of healthcare and include an expansion of walk-in services.

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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