St. Vincent’s to close; N.Y. seeking alternatives
MANHATTAN PROJECT / New York to develop alternatives as St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan closes.
As St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers moved to close its struggling Manhattan hospital last week, New York state scrambled to come up with alternatives for patients in need of critical outpatient care.
New York Gov. David Paterson, who unsuccessfully lobbied a half-dozen candidates to take on the failing St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan, New York, said last week providers had about eight days to apply for grants to cover construction, equipment and startup costs to open or expand urgent-care services to meet anticipated demand once the 440-bed hospital closes.
Meanwhile, the hospital’s Catholic owner, which has begun to dismantle operations under a crippling $700 million debt, said it would transfer or discharge patients and would divert ambulances to alternative emergency rooms as of April 9 for all but behavioral health patients. A rally with hospital workers and community members was held April 7 to try to save the hospital.
The decision to close St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan came after officials failed to find another health system willing to absorb the hospital, which had relied on $19 million in emergency loans to remain open since February.
St. Vincent’s outpatient cancer center and HIV/AIDS clinics will not close, the system said, and officials are seeking new owners for the clinics as they prepare to close the 160-year-old hospital. Already on the market are the system’s nursing homes, home health agency, hospice program, acute-care behavioral health campus in Harrison, N.Y., and health plan. Buyers have signed letters of intent for all assets but the health plan and one nursing home, a spokesman said.
The system emerged from bankruptcy in 2007 but continued to struggle as operating losses and debt mounted in 2008, the most recent year for which financial figures are available. The system lost $66 million on revenue of $814 million for the year that ended in December 2008 compared with $34.7 million off $821.6 million the prior year.
In February, Paterson announced emergency loans from the state and two banks would buy time as the system scrambled to find a stronger owner for its struggling hospital. Six potential partners rejected the deal, including Mount Sinai Medical Center, though the New York hospital said in a written statement: “We have concluded that we are not going to pursue the acquisition of the inpatient operations of St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, but we will continue to consider other healthcare options for the communities served by St. Vincent’s.”
Ian Michaels, a spokesman for Mount Sinai, declined to say if the hospital was in talks to acquire St. Vincent’s outpatient services.
Gary Wallace, a patient, holds a sign at a rally held last week trying to stop St. Vincent’s Hospital’s closing.