The Mount Sinai Health System has cancelled a controversial plan to downsize its Beth Israel Hospital campus in Manhattan’s East Village, citing the need for additional hospital beds following the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the redevelopment plan, Mount Sinai-Beth Israel would have phased out its 683-bed hospital at First Avenue and 16th Street and replace it with a smaller, new hospital a few blocks away with just 70 beds.
But Jeremy Boal, Mount Sinai Health System’s chief medical officer and president of Mt. Sinai Downtown, suggested Tuesday that the dramatic reduction of beds no longer made sense after grappling to treat a surge of patients during the COVID-19 outbreak over the past year.
“The pandemic has taught us many lessons. It is with these lessons in mind that we have taken a careful look at our original plan for the new hospital. This analysis has led us to a different conclusion with regard to the best approach to caring for the communities that depend on MSBI [Mount Sinai-Beth Israel],” Boal said in a note sent to employees.
Boal said instead of building a new facility at 13th street, MSBI will upgrade portions of its existing Beth Israel campus.
“Should there ever be another pandemic of the size and scope that we just lived through, or other disasters that require additional capacity, we will be ready,” Boal said.
“The bottom line is that we are staying on site. We are making sure we build the right facility, with the right resources to serve our community, regardless of what the future may hold.”
Lawyer Arthur Schwartz, who opposed the downsizing plan as jeopardizing care to lower Manhattan residents, called the about-face “a great victory.”
But Schwartz wants other services that were already closed at Beth Israel — the pediatric surgery and maternity and neonatal units, restored.
“The loss of services was harmful to the community Beth Israel serves, which includes most of Lower Manhattan and parts of western Brooklyn,” he said.
Schwartz had sued to block the downsizing plan. The redevelopment plan and the suit were put on hold during the pandemic.
Dozens of financially struggling hospitals downsized or closed in New York State over the past three decades, leading to a staggering loss of 20,000 hospital beds due to budget cuts and insurance overhauls.
Critics and experts said the loss of beds complicated local and state efforts to battle the coronavirus during the peak of the pandemic last year.
Metro | New York Post