Monday, May 24, 2010

Coalition for a New Village Hospital Responds to Senator Duane’s Forum

Last Friday, Senator Thomas K. Duane held for a forum entitled "How Can We Get Back a Hospital for Our Community". The forum was a direct response to our work marching in the streets, fighting in the court, and organizing to demand that our hospital be restored.

Though some of the panelists invited by Senator Duane attempted to tell us we no longer need a hospital, Eileen Dunn, representing the Nurses Union, made it clear that we must we have a hospital on the Lower West Side and that if we make our voices heard, we can make it happen.

Perhaps most incredible was one of the panelists' response when asked what a resident should do if they were experiencing a heart attack or some other emergency.

Please see the clip below captured by George Sosa, a documentarian who covered this meeting to see what the "health advocate" had to say:

NYS Senator Thomas Duane's Health Care Education Panel 5/21/10 (Clip 1) from g. sosa on Vimeo.

Below is the Coalition’s answers to some of the questions posed at Senotr Duane’s forum.

An urgent care center cannot meet the public health and safety needs of this community. It will not be able to offer level 1 trauma, an emergency room or related intensive care and hospital beds needed. Nor would it support the complex web of health care this community depended on with
St. Vincent's and needs. This includes but is not limited to pediatric, oncology, HIV/AIDS and birthing services. A hospital will also be able to bring income to our City and the State through Federal funding, and other sources, not available to an urgent care center.

St. Vincent's location is centrally located, and already has hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure for a hospital. It will be significantly easier to renovate and reuse and will comport with the look, feel and needs of the community. It is not true that St. Vincent's past debts will adversely impact a new hospital for being at this site. In fact, because St. Vincent's is in bankruptcy, its past debts will be discharged and a new hospital would be able to acquire the property at a potentially greatly reduced price. Ideas to promise a hospital in the future at some other time would only be dangling a carrot that would be lost in vague real estate development schemes and would not put our health and safety first. It would also take years. In the meantime we would have lost the zoning for a hospital at the St. Vincent's site. If we can't open an active hospital at the site of a recently closed hospital, how are we going to open it anywhere else? We should not lose this opportunity.

Nay-sayers will tell you that it's not possible, that there is too much debt, that no entity is interested and that there are already too many hospital beds in
Manhattan. This is far from the truth. First, the debt will be discharged. A hospital will provide more revenue streams than an urgent care center, and properly managed, especially given changes in national health care, could be a significant financial asset to the community. Second, there have been and continues to be many entities interested in opening a hospital at the St. Vincent's site, and it is up to our leaders to bring them to the table and find a way to do this. Finally, while there may be communities lucky enough to have too many hospital beds, we have far too little. In fact, we have none. We have a right to health care, and hospital beds and emergency care. And these vital services must be properly apportioned in all neighborhoods throughout Manhattan, including ours.


  1. The most important next step is to place a land use lock on the Hospital site by City Council. This can be done if Speaker Quinn takes action to do it now. Quinn must put the needs of her district above her political ambition and her relationship with the Mayor Bloomberg. A land use lock making the site available for only hospital/medical service use would stop the ravenous real estate interests from seizing the site for luxury housing as the Rudin plan had so clearly put forward with its St Vincent's conversion plan .. no affordable housing was in their design.
    jim fouratt

  2. I saw your flyers today and had a real laugh. Demand a hospital? St Vincent's was $700 mil in debt and losing $50 mil a month. Who would invest in another money-losing 'opportunity' like that. I'll bet no one on this site!

    What is really ironic, is there was a chance to save the hospital a few years ago, and the NIMBYers, local Yuppies, trust-funders and clueless neighbors fought and saw that that the combined re-development/new hospital proposal was rejected.

    WHAT DID YOU EXPECT AFTER THAT? The neighborhood got what it deserved and now there's no more hospital.

    Next time, get a clue, you'll be getting a new development anyway now, and no medical facility. Just desserts, if you ask me.

  3. I think it's important that you back up your claim of "there have been and continues to be many entities interested in opening a hospital at the St. Vincent's site." Who are they? Can you get them on record as saying they're interested? From my understanding, in the months leading up to the closure every hospital group in town was asked to tour the site and consider buying it/taking it over and no one wanted it because the facilities were so old and they didn't have a residency program anymore.

    It seems like if there was a group interested in opening a hospital there, it would have happened. The elected officials would have been a lot better off if they'd been able to find someone, and so would the community, who they know votes for them. So putting this up as like, they just didn't try is a fairly weak claim.

    More importantly, if you really know any groups who want to open a hospital on the site, name names, give us contact info so we can get them involved before it's too late.