Texas Liberal

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Closing Of St. Vincent’s Hospital In New York City—From The Texas Liberal New York Desk

(Blogger’s Note—Here is the second post from Texas Liberal New York City Correspondent Lyuba Halkyn. I inserted the links, but the words and pictures are from Lyuba.)

In these times of intense healthcare controversy, New York City suffers a great loss with the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital. St. Vincent’s is located in Manhattan’s West Village. For those not familiar with Manhattan’s neighborhoods, the West Village makes up the west side of Greenwich Village and spans from 14 th Street to Houston Street (pronounced how-stun).

St. Vincent’s Hospital opened in 1849 and has a rich, 160-year history.  The history of this hospital ranges from aiding Titanic survivors to it being the premier location of patients from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.  This hospital was known in the charity spectrum, as it took in homeless and those who were not able to pay.  St. Vincent’s was a pioneer in the AIDS/HIV crisis of the late 70’s/early 80’s, taking patients that were turned down at other hospitals and clinics.  St. Vincent’s was leading in its care with the elderly.

What can I assume from reading a bit about the hospital’s history?  This is a hospital that really cared to take care of people in need regardless of circumstances and a necessity in a city like New York.  Where will some of these people go to get care?  I suppose to other hospitals, if they have the money.

This private, non-profit hospital was $700 million in debt at the time of its closing.  There had been proposals to partner up with other NYC hospitals.  No one wanted to take on the debt.  Consultants had been hired at a point to help the hospital stay afloat.  There had been speculation of misuse of funds related to the consultants.  So the board of directors finally voted to close the hospital. (Here is a New York Observer article on the closing.)

Where is the bailout money for St. Vincent’s?  I had to ask myself this question.

Fortunately, certain outpatient services, such as the Cancer Center and the HIV/AIDS Center will continue to provide care without interruption.  These services will be transferred to new sponsors or other alternatives.  St. Vincent’s level 1 trauma center will be converted to an urgent care center run by Lenox Hill Hospital.  It will be equipped to handle only non-emergencies, nothing as serious as a heart attack.  If a person were to come in with an emergency, he/she will be taken by ambulance to another hospital. I wish these patients well, as they are being transported in the thick of Manhattan traffic.

St. Vincent’s was the only hospital in the City that supported home births. According to state law, midwives must partner with a doctor or hospital.  The closing of the hospital could put an end to home births.  This is another fact that contributes to the uniqueness of this hospital.

The neighborhood is losing a hospital, and approximately 3,500 people are losing jobs. And the unemployment rate continues to rise.

Some of these facts, I have shared, I was already aware of and some, I was not.  I have visited people at this hospital and know someone who was born at St. Vincent’s.  (I probably know more than this person who was born here, but just one that shared with me recently.)

St. Vincent’s will be missed my many in the community and remembered with great respect in its humanitarian efforts.

May 5, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

2 Comments »

  1. Thanks for posting such a nice tribute to an essential part of the community that will sorely be missed! I went briefly for outpatient services there while uninsured and they were helpful and willing to work on a sliding scale. My fear is where will all of the uninsured residents go now?? God knows there are a lot of them in such an artistic and entrepreneurial neighborhood like the Village. Since the 3500 layed-off workers won’t have insurance anymore either, I wonder what they’ll do now as well…?

    Comment by Kati Curtis | May 5, 2010

  2. I have been following this story in the NY Times. It’s a shame. Thank you, Lubya and Texas Liberal, for sharing your perspective.

    Comment by Newton | May 5, 2010


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