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Bitter pill to swallow: Pols slam plan to close Beth Israel Hospital

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Local politicians, healthcare workers and area residents rallied again outside Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital on March 24, stressing the historic healthcare hub is critical for Downtown and Lower Manhattan — and warning that nearby hospitals would be unable to pick up the slack if it closed.

Mt. Sinai plans to shutter the Gramercy-area hospital by July 12, though the New York State Department of Health still must officially approve the closure plan.
The health giant says M.S.B.I. is a massive money drain and, if not taken offline, would drag down its whole hospital network.

Keeping up the heat, area elected officials turned out in force at the rally, showing a united front to save the essential facility.

Congressmember Jerrold Nadler said, “We’re here today to say, in no uncertain terms, that the closing of Mt. Sinai Beth Israel would be devastating for the whole area, leaving a massive gap in our emergency and healthcare system, particularly for low- and moderate-income Medicaid users. It would leave a gaping hole for 400,000 people. Where will the people go? Bellevue and N.Y.U. [Langone] are already overburdened and stretched thin. We need answers.”

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein accused Mt. Sinai of not operating in good faith regarding the 125-year-old Beth Israel.

“Ten years ago, when Mount Sinai bought this hospital,” he stated, “they said they were here to make sure we had adequate healthcare in our community. Just a few years later, they started their closing plan. Was it their plan from the beginning to take the value out of the community and deprive 400,000 New Yorkers of adequate access to care?”

Epstein noted that in 2019 nearby Bellevue Hospital had 550 patients staying in its beds overnight but that now the number has swelled to more than 850 per night.
“Bellevue is bursting at the seams,” he warned.

Similarly, Councilmember Carlina Rivera said Bellevue has seen an increase of “hundreds of births” per year since M.S.B.I. moved out its own maternity ward. In fact, she said, Bellevue — to address the increase in patients now and expected in the future — “wants to expand its footprint.” But she said it’s unwise to allow one public healthcare facility to get so overburdened, particularly one that serves the needy.

“We are tired of healthcare services being moved to other locations and the West Side,” she said. “We are worried. We are scared. We need adequate, comprehensive healthcare for Lower Manhattan.”

State Senator Kristen Gonzalez, who led the rally, said, “If you learned anything from the pandemic about what New York needs most, it’s more beds, more investment, more healthcare access.”

Assemblymember Deborah Glick called it “unacceptable” for Mt. Sinai to buy the hospital, at E. 16th Street and First Avenue, a decade ago and then turn around and say, “Well, the facility is older.”

“Did you not have an inspector?” before the purchase, she scoffed.

In December, at the politicians’ urging, the state Department of Health issued a cease-and-desist order barring Mount Sinai from doing any further piecemeal cuts of services until D.O.H. gives its verdict on the application for the full closure.

In February, Arthur Schwartz, the Greenwich Village activist attorney, filed a lawsuit against the plan to abruptly pull the hospital’s plug, arguing Mt. Sinai had been doing it already in a stealthy, segmented manner, to skirt having to get the state’s O.K.

Yet, Glick declared, “This hospital is still being stripped of services. It is unacceptable.”

State Senator Brian Kavanagh said, as part of the closure plan review, state D.O.H. and Mt. Sinai must be “transparent” and fully assess the impact of the complete loss of the hospital or even just a reduction of its services.
Despite the D.O.H. cease-and-desist against service reductions, he noted, “Time and time again, Mt. Sinai violated the order.”

“This process is broken,” he said.

Also condemning the closure plan and calling for the hospital to be saved were state Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Assemblymember Tony Simone and Councilmembers Christopher Marte and Erik Bottcher.


  1. Vote for change Vote for change March 30, 2024

    State elected representatives are running for reelection, so it’s a safe opportunity to mingle with constituents and appear to care and “do something.” To get votes.
    Why didn’t these same politicians do something when Mount Sinai announced they would close Beth Israel a few years ago?
    If these politicians can’t save a hospital (2nd one), what are they good for?

  2. Mike Mike March 29, 2024

    These politicians are just trying to save their asses. They should have been several years ago.

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