Beth Israel to replace Lower Manhattan hospital with smaller facility

LOWER MANHATTAN (WABC) -- Mount Sinai Beth Israel will close its existing hospital in Lower Manhattan and replace it with a much smaller facility.

The hospital Wednesday announced plans to close the facility and open a new one two blocks away at 14th Street and Second Avenue.

The hospital will sell its property and open a 70-bed hospital and emergency room in 2020.

"Much of the existing Beth Israel infrastructure is aging and unable to meet the needs of the modern healthcare landscape," the hospital said in a statement.

"Absolutely not a closure. It's a transformation," said Kenneth L. Davis, President and CEO of the Mount Sinai Health System.

Transforming a business model model from the '70s, in a building built in the '20's is what Davis has on tap with a new, yet smaller $550 million hospital.

"It's licensed for 800 beds. It hasn't filled 800 beds in decades. Today there are about 400 patients in Beth Israel Hospital, 150 are psychiatric patients," said Davis.

And those 150 psych beds will stay. Highly specialized procedures like neurosurgery will be performed at the Centers for Excellence. But now many procedures are outpatient, like hip and knee replacement. The new facility is slated for 70 inpatient beds with room ore expansion.

"We see decreased use of the hospital in patient beds, we see decreased re-admissions, we see shorter stays," said Davis.

Patients will continue to come to the facility on East 16th Street and Second Avenue for the next four years while the new hospital is being built two blocks away.

But just the mere mention of downsizing and restructuring, is giving patients bad flashbacks from when St. Vincent's Hospital closed its doors in 2010.

In a written statement, Rep. Jarrod Nadler says: "I remain concerned that the drastic reduction in hospital beds in New York City--and now twice in Lower Manhattan--in recent years will result in insufficient care downtown."

Mount Sinai said the move is part of a four-year, $500 million plan to create what it called the new "Mount Sinai Downtown" network from the East River to the Hudson River below 34th Street, a plan aimed at enhancing care and replacing aging and outdated infrastructure.

The new Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital on 14th Street and 2nd Avenue will include a new emergency department and expanded primary, specialty, behavioral and outpatient surgery services.

On average, the hospital said less than sixty percent of its licensed beds are occupied and patient volume at the financially troubled hospital has decreased by double digits since 2012.

The current MSBI hospital will remain open during this transformation and services will be uninterrupted.

"For several years, we have been transforming the Mount Sinai Health System toward a new model of care, where we focus on keeping entire communities healthy and out of the hospital," said Davis. "Mount Sinai Downtown is a dramatic next step that will enable us to improve access and increase quality by providing care for residents of downtown Manhattan where they live and work."

Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement in response to the hospital's announcement:
"New Yorkers must be able to get the right care they need at the right time. Major decisions about the future of hospitals have been happening in this city for the past decade, too often based on no plan whatsoever and without a larger strategy in place, and that has to end. Today, this Administration works with communities to ensure that institutions like Mt. Sinai continue to provide the healthcare New Yorkers need, especially emergency care, mental health and substance abuse services. While it is good to see that layoffs of unionized staff will be avoided and some important investments made, Mt. Sinai must work with the community to ensure that the in-patient and emergency care needs of local residents are met."

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