Cabrini Medical Center closes its doors

Hospital more than a century old
March 14, 2008 4:22:11 PM PDT
One of the oldest and best known hospitals in New York is about to close its doors and go out of business. Cabrini Medical Center, founded in 1889, tried to keep afloat this last year, even after a state panel advised them to shut down. But now, they're giving up.

Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Pegues has the story from Gramercy Park.

Giving up the fight to stay open, Cabrini raised the white flag and handed out pink slips Friday. One year ago, this day seemed inevitable as the state's Berger commission recommended that the hospital close its doors to trim what many considered to be a bloated health care system. Now, the budget ax finally fell.

There were a lot of hugs as employees said goodbye to their jobs at Cabrini Medical Center. The hospital is shutting down operations and longtime employees are losing out.

"I started in 1975 and the whole hospital was like family," employee Marie Doninelli said. "Today is a very sad day for us.''

These are tough times for the health care industry across the country. The 236-bed hospital is just the latest victim of declining revenues and an eroding base of patients.

Employees knew this day would come, but say it's still hard to swallow.

"Very sad, a lot of crying," another employee said. "Lot of tears, very sad.''

There is also sadness and frustration among patients, who feel like they are the forgotten ones in the transition.

"They weren't interested in, you know, they seemed kind of callous," patient Stephen Scipilia said. "I guess that's the way I would feel if I was [losing a job]."

He says, on this day, he understands why Cabrini Medical Center is not what employees and patients remember it to be.

"Very sad," another longtime employee said. "We have nice memories."

The hospital was started by Frances Cabrini in 1889. She was sent to the U.S. by the Pope from Italy to care for Italian immigrants who had come to the city. She was canonized, or made a saint, in 1946.