Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Attorney General Candidate Backs Hospital

Another candidate for New York State Attorney General came out in strong support of a hospital for the lower West Side today.

State Senator Eric Schneiderman (D - Manhattan, Bronx) issued the following statement:

"The closure of St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center was a tragic blow for Greenwich Village, Chelsea and the entire West Side of Manhattan. Unless a 24-hour acute care hospital with an emergency room opens in this neighborhood, entire communities of New Yorkers will go without the adequate health services they deserve.

"Moreover, recent allegations about the financial management of St. Vincent's Hospital, while it was still in operation, have raised serious and troubling questions that demand answers.

"The bottom line is: the west side of Manhattan both deserves and needs an acute care hospital with an emergency room. Anything and everything should be done to make certain that becomes a reality."

The Coalition for a New Village Hospital welcomes Mr. Schneiderman's bold support for our community's health.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Attorney General Candidate Backs Hospital, Coalition

Coalition for a New Village Hospital’s outreach scored a big win today as Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, a Democratic candidate for NY Attorney General, issued a bold statement of support.

We’ve reached out to all the candidates for Attorney General and Governor, and are expecting to hear from more in the next few days.

Former St. Vincent’s Hospital Employees and Lower West Side Community Welcomes Statement of Public Support From Attorney General Candidate Kathleen Rice

New York, NY – August 19th, 2010 6 pm-– Yetta Kurland of Kurland, Bonica & Associates, P.C. a member of The Coalition For A New Village Hospital, the community organization that filed suit against the NYS Department of Health on Monday August 16th, responded to a clear statement of support today from Attorney General Candidate Kathleen Rice.

In a statement issued today, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, announced, “As the next Attorney General, I will work with community advocates and Department of Health to help facilitate the return of a hospital to serve the people of the Lower West Side."

In making the statement, Rice became one of the first State officials to support the Coalition’s goals.

Said Kurland, “We welcome this powerful support from District Attorney Rice and her commitment to returning a vitally needed hospital and Level One Trauma Center to the Lower West Side Community. This closure has left hundreds of thousands without vital medical care and has thrown our community into a health crisis. We look forward to working closely with Nassau’s District Attorney Kathleen Rice in realizing our goal, and look forward to the support emerging from leaders throughout the State.”

On August 16th, the attorneys petitioned Manhattan Supreme Court to obtain information concerning the closure plan of St. Vincent’s Hospital. "It is our hope that the information we are able to secure in this action will help in realizing the return of a hospital to the community,” said Kurland. The Article 78 proceeding will be heard on September 8, 2010 in NYS Supreme Court by Judge O. Peter Sherwood.

"This community needs a hospital and deserves the truth. Today’s announcement of support from Kathleen Rice opens the door to a new, positive conversation, and we look forward to sitting down with local leaders to hear their views” said Eileen Dunn, RN, and a founding member of the Coalition.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Judge Sets Hearing and Orders Dept. of Health to Show Cause!

In a preliminary success for the Coalition for a New Village Hospital's Article 78 Lawsuit, Hon. O. Peter Sherwood of New York Supreme Court signed an order to show cause today, and set a hearing date for September 8th at which the NYS Dept. of Health must defend it's decision to keep public records secret.

Coalition Files Suit to Demand Release of Documents

The Coalition for a New Village Hospital filed suit in New York County Supreme Court today to demand release of documents kept secret by the New York State Dept. of Health. The suit, filed by attorneys Yetta Kurland and Thomas Shanahan on behalf of the Coalition, seeks to compel the Dept. of Health to release the hospital closure plans, transfer plans and all related documents.

While the documents are public records, the Dept. has steadfastly refused to release them despite a Freedom of Information Law request and numerous other inquiries. Today's Article 78 proceeding asks the court to order their release. Included in these documents will be details of any plans to transfer the St. Vincent's site to other hospital providers - and importantly why these attempts were quashed by Health Commissioner Richard Daines.

Here's civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland discussing the suit this morning.

Included in the complaint are IRS documents showing alleged mismanagement, high executive salaries and rampant waste by St. Vincent's management prior to the closure. Executive salaries remained sky-high as doctors, nurses and patients were asked to sacrifice.

Here are the documents filed today:

The coalition also held a press conference in conjunction with today's filing, which was reported on by The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, New York 1 (with Video), and others. In addition to Kurland and Shanahan, Coalition members Eileen Dunn RN, District Leaders Paul Newell and Jean Grillo, activist Miguel Acevedo and Noah Pfefferblit of Community Board 1 spoke in favor of the law suit.

NY Post Reports on Gross Mismanagement at St. Vincent's

The New York Post's Brad Hamilton broke a big story last night about executive mismanagement at St. Vincent's in the run-up to its closure.

Here's a taste:

'Doctored' books

Brass looted St. Vincent's for millions: foes

St. Vincent's Hospital was looted by execs and consultants in the two years before it closed, then grossly exaggerated its debt, according to blockbuster papers set to be filed tomorrow in Manhattan Supreme Court.

The filing, a petition that seeks to force the state Health Department to turn over documents on the closing, says the defunct medical center blew through millions in "highly questionable" expenses, including $278,000 for a golf outing, while paying its top 10 executives a combined $10 million a year.

It also shelled out $17 million for "management consultants," $3.8 million on "professional fund-raising" and a staggering $104 million on unspecified costs it listed simply as "other" on its federal tax returns, the petition says.

Read more:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Community Board 1 Joins the Fight!

Manhattan's Community Board 1 joined their neighbor CB2 and The Coalition for a New Village Hospital in calling for a "land lock" on the old St. Vincent's site. Board Chair Julie Menin commended the Coalition's work to a packed meeting. Coalition members Yetta Kurland, Paul Newell and Jonathan Slaff all spoke to the Board.

As more and more community groups sign on to CNVH's mission, the tide on this issue is beginning to turn. CB1 passed the resolution unanimously on July 27th.

DNA Info Covers Coalition's Community Outreach

Tara Kyle at DNA Info had a great story yesterday about Coalition for a New Village Hospital's Fundraising Committee Chair, Jonathan Slaff.

Slaff, who has also been blogging the Coalition's efforts, is a longtime Village resident, and an important part of the team.



Attorneys for community members of the West Village and Chelsea filed an appeal on Jul 19, 2010 to challenge the Bankruptcy Court's decision to deny community members the right to file suit against the Department of Health for allowing St. Vincent's Hospital to wrongfully close and for not ensuring a hospital replaced the 160 year medical institution. The Bankruptcy Judge claimed the suit would unfairly impact the distribution of assets to the creditors deciding it would "exercise control" over the assets.

Yetta Kurland, one of the attorneys representing the community members stated "This is not just about our fundamental right to health care, it is also about our fundamental right to due process. The Department of Health has an affirmative statutory obligation to ensure hospitals are closed properly. That means that the public needs to be properly protected in that process, which it was not here. It also means that the DOH has to ensure a continuation of the same services and ensure that this is place before it allows a hospital to close.

"But the Bankruptcy Court Judge told us that we could not proceed with our claim in New York State Court, not because we didn't have grounds, but because she wanted to retain jurisdiction on all matters related to the closure. But then she turned around and told us that we couldn't bring this lawsuit in Bankruptcy Court because we weren't a debtor or a creditor and because it might adversely impact the creditors' assets. This is not about assets, this is about people's lives. It begs the question; where do we go for relief when our state agencies are not doing what they are supposed to be doing. We believe the decision violates due process, New York State health laws and the New York State constitution."

Here's a full copy of the appeal

Coalition for a New Village Hospital Appellant Brief



West Village, New York. July 27, 2010. Over one hundred members of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital came out to the Community Board 2 Full Board Meeting at Elizabeth Irwin High School on Thursday July 22nd to demand a resolution that would protect land use at the St. Vincent's Hospital Campus to ensure it is used for a hospital.

After hours of testimony, in a showing of solidarity with the community, the Board passed a resolution calling on elected officials and the Bankruptcy Court to protect the existing land use by opposing any changes to the zoning, use and occupancy or any other law that would eliminate hospital use at the site. The board also called on the Bankruptcy Court to set up a Community Council, with the aid of the New York City Corporation Counsel, to represent the community in the Bankruptcy Court's procedures.

Yetta Kurland, a civil rights attorney and member of the Coalition stated "This is an incredible victory for our Community. Thanks to the courage and leadership of many Community Board members and the continued hard work of so many who have been fighting since the hospital closed on April 30th, we now have a resolution that our elected officials must listen to. We will settle for nothing less than a hospital at the St. Vincent's site."

The strong language that "opposes all changes in land use" was not initially on the agenda for the meeting. But after hearing testimony from members of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital and other community members speaking in favor of a land lock, the Board changed course and demanded that the resolution be amended to include such language. Arthur Schwartz, a civil rights attorney and member of Community Board 2 negotiated the language for the amendment to the resolution which was passed by a vote of 29 for and only 6 opposed.

Another Coalition member and St. Vincent's Physician, David Kaufman, MD stated "The hundreds of thousands of residents that live and work on the Lower West Side and the physicians who serve them desperately need a full service hospital and emergency room. I congratulate and thank Community Board 2 for their support and recognition of this critical need."

Eileen Dunn RN, a St. Vincent's nurse and member of the Coalition thanked the members of Community Board 2 stating "Community Board 2 has shown its true commitment to those they represent and I thank them for acknowledging, through this resolution, the importance of the health and safety of the people of the Lower West Side."

The Board's resolution puts them on record opposing any changes to the zoning, certificate of occupancy or other part of the land use that would eliminate the hospital use. Community Boards, while advisory, are considered an essential part of the ULURP process required to achieve such changes. Speaker Christine Quinn who also plays a vital role in the ULURP process is also recently on record stating that she "will continue our push for a full service hospital here." A full copy of the resolution is included below.


At its Full Board meeting on July 22, 2010, Community Board 2 (Manhattan) adopted the following resolution:


WHEREAS, the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital has resulted in the community's loss of an emergency room, in-patient hospital, Level 1 trauma center and the capacity to address a widespread public health emergency such as a natural disaster or act of terrorism, creating a significant gap in the health care services available to the residents of this community board and the entire Lower West Side of Manhattan; and

WHEREAS, as heard by the community board during the June 14 and July 15, 2010 public hearings and at previous community meetings, there is widespread public support for the re-establishment of a full-service, acute care hospital on the former St. Vincent's campus, and the community board reiterates its strong support for such a hospital at such location, as well; and

WHEREAS, all or part of the current St. Vincent's campus is the most logical, cost-effective, and central location for the re-establishment of such a hospital or other health care facility that will adequately address the community's myriad health care needs, and, in fact, may be the only location suitable for such a facility, which compounds the urgency of this resolution.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Community Board No. 2 opposes all changes in land use laws, zoning rules, landmarks laws, or any other laws that would eliminate hospital uses at the site of the former St. Vincent's; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOVED that CB2 shall seek to petition the Bankruptcy Court and create a community committee to explore in a publicly transparent manner, all options for the St. Vincent's campus, and requests assistance from the NYC Corporation Counsel to assert such a petition; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that CB2 urges our elected officials to join the Community Board in this petition.

Manhattan Community Board 2 Resolution on St. Vincent's