New York City's Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital and Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers are proving to be resilient patients, as they recover from the loss of business suffered as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath.
Less than two weeks after the baffling anthrax death of a supply-room worker shut down the 30-bed Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital for a full week, business had bounced back to normal volumes, said Philip Rosenthal, its executive director. "Normal" in these abnormal days means pre-Sept. 11 levels, he added.
"We're actually doing great," Rosenthal said. "I'm really happy."
The hospital, a subsidiary of Lenox Hill Hospital, also in Manhattan, averages 52 surgeries a day, nearly all of them elective, Rosenthal said. Admissions run about 15 to 18 patients during the week. Rosenthal said it took only a week after the Nov. 6 reopening to get back to those levels.
He estimates the hospital took a $1.1 million hit in lost revenue as a result of the anthrax scare. That is on top of nearly $1 million lost in the days after Sept. 11 when elective surgeries citywide slowed to a crawl in part because patients outside Manhattan couldn't get in.
Even though volumes have been resuscitated, the loss will make a precarious balance sheet even worse. In 1999, the same year it was acquired by Lenox Hill, Manhattan Eye and Ear lost $16.2 million on $25 million in revenue. The next year it posted an operating loss of $5.8 million on $24.4 million in revenue. This year up until the terrorist attacks, the loss was expected to shrink to about $4 million, Rosenthal said.
Investigators still have no clues how Kathy Nguyen, 61, contracted the pulmonary anthrax that killed her. They failed to find a trace of anthrax at the hospital.
Meanwhile, despite fears that disaster-relief charities would tap out the philanthropic coffers, eight-hospital Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers reports that people are digging deep into their pockets in response to the annual fund-raising letter that went out in late October. This year, Saint Vincents emphasized its key role in recovery efforts after the World Trade Center attack. As the closest trauma center to the World Trade Center, the system's flagship, 978-bed St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, gained national attention. Riding on that fame, the hospital system expanded its fund-raising mailing list to 125,000 homes in the New York area from the 50,000 to 100,000 that have received pitches in the past, said Mark Ackermann, chief corporate services officer for the system.
The system expects to exceed the $10 million typically raised annually through charitable donations. But it still won't cover the $12 million in attack-related losses to date-$27 million if revenue trends continue, Ackermann said.
"I think we are in a unique and somewhat uncomfortable position in that many charities in this country are suffering because there has been so much philanthropy gone to the victims of the World Trade Center," he said. "It puts us in the awkward position of raising more money than we might have otherwise. We're the exception to the rule this year as a result of the work done."