Cardinal John O'Connor has denied that the Archdiocese of New York is planning a $100 million hospital devoted to patients with AIDS and other infectious diseases.
The New York Daily News had reported the archdiocese would build the new hospital on a midtown lot, three blocks from the archdiocese-owned St. Clare's Hospital, which is one of the oldest hospitals in the city and which has done groundbreaking treatment of AIDS.
"I categorically deny that story," the cardinal said in a statement faxed to news organizations. He said it was based "on one of a series of private board meetings at which plans for St. Clare's have been studied and discussed."
The News, quoting unidentified sources, said Patricia Cahill, who heads the hospitals division of the archdiocese, revealed the plan at a private meeting of St. Clare's trustees a month ago.
Cardinal O'Connor said the archdiocese was "engaged in extensive and intensive planning" in coordination with St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center, another archdiocese-owned facility on the West Side, to develop a health services plan for people living in the St. Clare's area.
He said a plan that is "now undergoing a final feasibility study" would provide inpatient and outpatient care, family care with emphasis on services to women and children, and facilities for extensive diagnostic testing.
"Caring for persons with AIDS and other infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, would, of course, continue to be a part of St. Clare's mission," he said.
He said no site for a new St. Clare's "has yet been fixed."
The archdiocese has discussed buying the lot, located at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street, from Chase Manhattan Bank, but no decision has been made, said Joe Zwilling, the cardinal's spokesman.
Richard Yezzo, president of St. Clare's, said, "It has never been our intent, is not our intent, and probably never will be our intent to build a single-use facility for (AIDS and AIDS-related) disease. It is a bad idea."
He said St. Clare's, which was the first hospital on the East Coast to provide organized treatment for AIDS patients, is "very proud of our AIDS unit. We want it to grow and prosper. But it really relies on the success of a medical-surgical unit to work with it, for it to work correctly."