Volume 79, Number 44 | April 7 - 13, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Villager file photo by Jefferson Siegel

St. Vincent’s Hospital’s Coleman Building on Seventh Ave. at W. 11th St.

Nadler warning from on High

At a press conference on the High Line last Thursday touting the new park’s already having attracted 2 million visitors, The Villager asked Congressmember Jerrold Nadler what he thought about President Obama’s commitment to the war in Afghanistan.

“A bad idea,” Nadler said and shook his head. “It’s an example of mission creep. You decide to go in and get rid of Al Qaeda bases, which is all right, but then you go on and on. You get involved in a 35-year civil war that tied up the Soviet Union and now is involving us.”

Albert Amateau

St. Vincent’s pulls
the plug; Historic
hospital will close

By Lincoln Anderson

Late Tuesday afternoon, The Villager received a phone call from a Greenwich Village woman who said her doctor at St. Vincent’s Cancer Center had informed her on Monday that St. Vincent’s Hospital would be closing at the end of the month. St. Vincent’s doctors were taking new jobs elsewhere, or taking vacations, she said he had told her.

Michael Fagan, the hospital's spokesperson, denied St. Vincent’s would be shutting down, telling The Villager that the woman’s report was “unsubstantiated rumor.”

However, in an e-mail to The Villager only a few hours later, Fagan noted there had been “a change in circumstances.”

In a subsequent e-mail, he wrote, “The board had not completed their meeting when we spoke earlier” — and there was an attached release confirming that the historic Greenwich Village Catholic hospital will indeed close.

The release was headlined: “Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers’ Board Reluctantly Authorizes Closure of Manhattan Hospital; Financial Constraints Dictate Closure; Affiliated Facilities Will Continue To Operate & Will Be Sold as Going Concerns; Safeguarding Patient Care Remains Top Priority.”

The body of the release read: “The Board of Directors of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers (Saint Vincent’s) reluctantly voted to authorize the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan inpatient services, including all acute, rehab and behavioral health. The vote came after a six-month-long effort to save the financially troubled institution, which has operated in the Village for over 160 years. The closure only affects St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan inpatient services — the other facilities and programs of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers will continue as the organization seeks new sponsorship to operate them as continuing service providers.”

“The decision to close St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan inpatient services was made only after the board, management and our advisors exhausted every possible alternative,” Alfred E. Smith IV, chairman of the board of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, said in the release. “We are deeply saddened that we were unable to come up with a viable plan to save the inpatient services at the hospital that has proudly served Manhattan’s West Side and Downtown for 160 years.

“Outpatient services, such as our Cancer Center and the H.I.V./AIDS Center, will continue to provide care without interruption as we proceed with plans to transfer those services to new sponsors or other operating alternatives,” Smith said. 

The board’s vote will be followed by submission of a closure plan to the Department of Health, according to the release.

“Pursuant to the plan, all St. Vincent’s patients will be discharged or transferred to nearby nonaffiliated hospitals, as appropriate,” the statement continued. “While the hospital anticipates there will be changes to its outpatient health center clinics in the future, they will continue to operate as usual. Additionally, elective surgeries will continue on a case-by-case basis, though it is anticipated that elective surgeries will cease after April 14, 2010.

“The Hospital’s highest priority remains the health and safety of its patients,” the release went on. “Physicians and nurses will continue to work with the hospital during the transition. The remaining parts of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, including its nursing homes, home health agency, St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester, and US Family Health Plan, will continue to operate without interruption as the organization finalizes sales of those entities to other providers.”

Sister Jane Iannucelli, vice chairperson of the board of directors of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, said, “The Sisters of Charity are very grateful to our administrators, employees, physicians and nurses who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the mission of St. Vincent’s over these difficult times. In addition, everyone appreciates all of the efforts made by our employees, union partners, elected officials and community members to save St. Vincent’s.”

Patients will receive more information about the announcement in coming days, according to the statement, and can also visit www.svcmc.org .  
  Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, in a statement, said he would work to establish an urgent-care facility at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

Over the last two months, Nadler and other elected officials worked closely with stakeholders in the Governor’s St. Vincent’s Task Force to find a workable solution to preserve an acute-care facility at the hospital.

“I am saddened to learn, this evening, of the decision by the board of directors of St. Vincent’s Hospital to cease all inpatient operations at the hospital,” Nadler said. “Over the coming weeks, I am committed to working with all parties to establish an urgent-care facility at the St. Vincent’s campus in Greenwich Village. It is my hope that this new model of healthcare services will be able to provide the vital health services needed on the Lower West Side.”

State Senator Tom Duane said, “I have not given up the fight. I will continue to fight for the preservation of a 24-hour emergency room, widely available and culturally sensitive community-based primary care, and the specialty services that have been at the core of St. Vincent’s commitment to our Lower West Side neighborhoods and our city as a whole.”

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