Volume 80, Number 29 | December 16- 22, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
From left, L.I.J.’s Jeffrey Kraut, C.B. 2’s Brad Hoylman, C.B. 4’s Jesse Smith Campoamor and Dr. Neal Cohen of Hunter College at the Dec. 6 meeting on the health needs assessment.
Health study could be done in as soon
as 3 to 4 months
By Lincoln Anderson
A community health needs assessment that could be used to make the case for a new hospital or healthcare facility to replace the former St. Vincent’s Hospital could be completed by early spring.
Meanwhile, at a recent meeting in Chelsea on the needs assessment, members of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital continued to ask why the study was needed, saying there were sufficient studies already.
About 50 people gathered at the Robert Fulton Houses Senior Center on Dec. 6 to hear members of the Community Health Assessment Steering Com-mittee give an update on where the study stands and answer questions.
Hunter College School of Public Health and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System are doing the assessment pro bono, under the guidance of healthcare professionals, the area’s elected officials and community organizations represented on the 45-member steering committee.
The Dec. 6 panel included steering committee members Brad Hoylman of Community Board 2; Jesse Smith Campoamor of Community Board 4; Dr. Neal Cohen, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Health now on the Hunter College faculty; and Jeffrey Kraut, senior vice president for strategy of North Shore-L.I.J. Health System. State Senator Tom Duane, also a steering committee member, sat in for the start of the meeting, and expressed strong support, but left after about half an hour, reportedly having to head back up to Albany.
Thus far, following the committee’s first meeting in September, two reports were produced in October — “Defining the Service Area” and “The Origin of St. Vincent’s Patients” — and have been posted on Community Board 2’s Web site.
According to the steering committee, the primary service area for the former St. Vincent’s Hospital stretches from W. 34th St. down to Soho and Hudson Square, east of Fifth Ave. and the Bowery. Based on patient exit records, about 45 percent of hospitalized residents in the 10011 and 10014 zip codes (Chelsea and Greenwich Village) were most dependent on St. Vincent’s, while 55 percent sought inpatient care elsewhere. However, when it came to emergency department use, the numbers were flipped, with 55 percent of residents in the primary service area seeking treatment at St. Vincent’s.
In general, the “Defining the Service Area” report notes, “St. Vincent’s was the most preferred hospital for these communities, where it was ranked #1 based upon inpatient and emergency treat-and-release visit utilization.”
At the Dec. 6 meeting, Hunter College’s Cohen explained that the assessment will also include sit-downs with focus groups and a survey with a “quantitative analysis.” He said the survey could be finished in the next three or four months.
L.I.J.’s Kraut said they will be looking at whether the key issue is “availability of a hospital or the not close proximity of emergency care” and also, “Where did all the doctors go?” who were serving St. Vincent’s.
Yetta Kurland of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital asked the panel asked if the assessment will conclude that a replacement hospital should be put at the former St. Vincent’s site at 12th St. and Seventh Ave., which is the position backed by the coalition.
“I don’t think there’s a secret in the resistance to this needs assessment,” she stated. Referring to the report’s map of the St. Vincent’s primary service area and secondary service areas, she said, “As I look at the map with the different colors of green, we’re not specifically hearing that the plan is to return health services to the site of St. Vincent’s. … We’re not hearing what the goal of the study is. Do we want a full-service hospital in 10 years, or do we want a hospital immediately at the St. Vincent’s site?”
Hoylman responded, “We think you need the data to make the case for a full-service hospital.”
Added Campoamor of the former St. Vincent’s campus, “We have no power over that site.”
The St. Vincent’s property is the former hospital’s largest asset with which to pay off its $1 billion debt, which forced it to close for good at the end of April. The property’s fate is being overseen by Bankruptcy Court. St. Vincent’s recently requested permission from Bankruptcy Court to have CB Richard Ellis market the property.
Last week, St. Vincent’s auctioned off the hospital’s entire contents, from waiting-room furniture and ambulances to the backup generator.
According to one health insider, getting a new hospital anywhere in Downtown Manhattan would be a years-long process, and is a daunting prospect in the current fiscal economy.
“We all want a hospital,” Campoamor responded to Kurland at the Fulton Houses meeting. “Who’s going to fund it?”
Many see politics deeply embedded at the heart of the post-St. Vincent’s healthcare debate. Kurland ran against Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the last Council election and came in a close second. The expectation is — with Quinn serving her final four years due to term limits — that Kurland is readying for another run for the Council. Hoylman is also a former Council candidate and is also expected to vie for the Third District seat.
“Brad, you put in for the needs assessment,” audience member Timothy Lunceford, a Kurland ally, said during his comments at the microphone. “You want to run for mayor in four years — what’s up with that?”
Hoylman, who up to this point has never been mentioned as a mayoral candidate, just shrugged off the accusation.