Myths and Facts about St. Vincent's Hospital

The Coalition for a New Village Hospital corrects some lingering myths about the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital.

Myth 1: The Berger Commission made no specific recommendations or findings regarding St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Fact 1: The Berger Commission’s job was not to make affirmative findings of hospitals to keep open, but to identify any hospitals that could be closed.  Not only was St. Vincent’s allowed to continue its operations but the Berger Commission did make an affirmative finding that St. Vincent’s was “essential”.

Myth 2:  St. Vincent’s had accumulated over $1 billion of debt because of the costs of health care and that is why it was forced to close the hospital operations at West 12th Street implying that St. Vincent’s was economically unfeasible.

Fact 2:  As we now know, the overwhelming majority of this alleged debt was not accrued by the running of St. Vincent’s hospital, but was transferred to St. Vincent’s from other institutions.

Myth 3:  Section 2806 of the NYS Public Health Law does not apply to the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital and therefore the hospital closed properly.

Fact 3:  The closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital violated Title 10 Section 401.3 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations, The Municipal Laws and Open Meeting Laws, the New York State Constitution and Section 2806 of the NYS Public Health Law.  Title 10 states in pertinent part that St. Vincent’s was required to tender to the DOH a closure plan that provided for a continuation of services and a safekeeping of records and that the DOH was required to ensure, approve, and transmit this approval in writing to St. Vincent’s before allowing such closure to begin.  This was not done.  The services provided by St. Vincent’s were terminated not because of St. Vincent’s debt, but because the DOH refused to allow Mt. Sinai to take over these operations.  As such the DOH created a constructive revocation of the Certificate of Operations and Section 2806 Paragraph 6 applies.  This paragraph says that the commissioner may suspend, limit, modify or revoke a Certificate of Operation only “after taking into consideration the total number of beds necessary to meet the public need” and complying with the other obligations outlined in the law to include the public in this determination.

Section 2806 of the NYS Public Health Law is in place to protect the public from closures by the DOH which jeopardize proper resources for public health care.  It addresses closures in which the Certificate of Operation is terminated without the normal procedure outlined in Title 10 which by the DOH’s own admission includes this closure.

Myth 4:  City zoning cannot be used to stop residential or commercial development to replace a hospital at the site of St. Vincent’s.  And even if it could, these zoning changes are up to the Bankruptcy Court.

Fact 4:  Community Board 2 acting properly, passed a valid resolution that denounced the use of St. Vincent’s site for anything other than a hospital.  The resolution called for the elected officials involved in the ULURP process to prohibit changing the current zoning to residential or commercial use.  What do we do when our elected officials continue to ignore and deride this clear directive from the community?

Further, the Coalition emphatically disagrees with the idea that the federal bankruptcy court can decide New York City zoning law.  It can’t.

Myth 5:  Federal funds are not available for a hospital and we cannot afford to open a new hospital

Fact 5:  When St. Vincent’s closed it had hundreds of millions of dollars of US Department of Defense open contracts.  The hospital received hundreds of millions of dollars of federal monies which are now lost to the City and to the State.  The sooner we restore a hospital, the sooner we can recover these revenue streams and replace thousands of jobs in the community.  The fastest and most affordable way to do this is to simply renovate and restore the services at the site of the old St. Vincent’s.

Sent to us from our friend Yetta Kurland.

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