The former St. Vincent’s Hospital O’Toole building is being developed into a 24/7 free-standing emergency room. But Yetta Kurland disagrees with Christine Quinn and Richard Gottfried on whether there was any legal requirement to do so. Photo by Jefferson Siegel
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED SEPT. 9, 2013 | BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Christine Quinn and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried recently each accused City Council candidate Yetta Kurland of lying by saying she forced the state Department of Health, through a lawsuit Kurland filed, to admit it must provide a hospital at the site of the former St. Vincent’s in Greenwich Village.
Kurland made the comment in public at a debate with opponent Corey Johnson on Aug. 26 at Bowtie Cinema in Chelsea sponsored by NYC Community Media, The Villager’s parent company.
“I stepped up,” Kurland said at one point during the debate, “and with the Coalition for a New Village Hospital, I fought and won an important victory, forcing the Department of Health to admit it had a legal obligation to restore a hospital at the site of St. Vincent’s Hospital.”
The pro-Kurland part of the audience heartily applauded her statement.
After the debate, Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly’s Health Committee, came up from his seat in the audience and spoke to The Villager, rendering his opinion of the truthfulness of Kurland’s comment.
“Horses—!” he said.
Similarly, told a few days later of Kurland’s claims, Quinn said, “That is completely made-up. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”
However, Kurland stood by her story in a follow-up interview with The Villager.
“We were able to get them to admit they have to have a hospital there,” she said. “But, it feels to me, they just turned around and tried to say the emergency room is a hospital.”
Kurland was referring to the $110 million, 24/7, free-standing E.R. and comprehensive care center that North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System is currently creating inside the former St. Vincent’s O’Toole building, at 12th St. and Seventh Ave., and which is slated to open next June.
But Kurland said the stand-alone E.R. is insufficient because it would only triage patients and not treat them. If someone needs more serious care, he or she will be transported from the N.S.L.I.J. facility to a nearby hospital.
For the record, Bill Rudin, head of Rudin Management, told The Villager a few years ago that Kurland, through her activism on the hospital issue, definitely does deserve credit for getting the free-standing E.R. However, Kurland dismisses it as a “two-and-a-half-bed” hospital, and advocates for building a 200-bed hospital on top of O’Toole by adding additional floors on top of it. Approval would be needed for this, though, from the state Department of Health.
Quinn, for her part, told The Villager there was no legal requirement for any health facility either at the former hospital site — now being developed into luxury condos by Rudin Management — or at the O’Toole site.
Asked to show some sort of tangible proof to back up her claims, Kurland told The Villager she could send the newspaper the memo she sent on the subject to the state attorney general. However, Kurland said she could not provide The Villager with the Department of Health’s supposed admission that a hospital is required at the former St. Vincent’s site — and that The Villager would somehow have to find this on its own.
Two weeks ago, while still campaigning for mayor, Quinn told this newspaper, “I’m going to commit to bringing back a full-service hospital to the Lower West Side. Period.”