Mount Sinai Beth Israel is close to announcing it will cut inpatient capacity after the New York City hospital lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the past two years. An announcement is expected within the next two weeks, according to a message sent to union members by the New York State Nurses Association.
“We have been informed by management that they will be announcing the downsizing of Beth Israel within the next week or two. Their plan is to move units and individuals throughout the system,” NYSNA officials wrote in the email sent Friday afternoon that began, “Urgent message!”
NYSNA said in the message that it had entered into discussions with the health care union 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East and would protect members' “job security, mobility and parity of benefits.”
Mount Sinai Beth Israel and its affiliates lost $85.6 million in the first nine months of 2015, according to recent financial statements. That red ink exceeded a budgeted $75.6 million loss and rivaled the hospital's $90.7 million loss for all of 2014.
Plans to announce the restructuring surfaced after The Villager, a weekly newspaper serving lower Manhattan, reported on May 13 that the hospital would close, citing three anonymous nurses.
Mount Sinai officials refuted that story in an email sent to faculty, staff and students.
“We are well aware of the understandable stress and confusion that has been caused by an inaccurate story in today's Villager newspaper,” read the email, obtained by Crain's, from Dr. Kenneth Davis, Mount Sinai's president and chief executive; Dr. Dennis Charney, dean of Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine; and Susan Somerville, president of Mount Sinai Beth Israel.
The executives continued, “We are working on a plan which will enhance existing services and develop new facilities in the Mount Sinai Beth Israel community. In the meantime, there will be no disruption in any of our patient care services.”
In a statement, a Mount Sinai spokeswoman echoed the executives' message. “We understand why there are a lot of rumors and misinformation circulating. However, Mount Sinai is 100% committed to serving the community and offering the highest level of patient care,” she said.
The statement itself does not directly address whether the hospital will downsize. Mount Sinai might be adding new services and facilities in the community served by Mount Sinai Beth Israel, but they may be outpatient facilities. The spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny whether the hospital would close and did not answer questions about future plans for the site.
Community health advocates are already concerned. A downsizing at Mount Sinai Beth Israel following the 2010 closure of St. Vincent's Medical Center would deal a blow to lower Manhattan residents, said Judy Wessler, the former director of the Commission on the Public's Health System and a community health advocate and organizer.
“I don't think anyone believes that a new hospital will be built,” she said. “When St. Vincent's closed, Beth Israel was the option for people as it is right across town, so if it closes that would create more problems for Lower West Siders,” said Wessler, who lives near the former St. Vincent's site.
Mount Sinai Beth Israel, an 856-bed teaching hospital, was founded in 1889 and acquired by the Mount Sinai Health System through its 2013 merger with Continuum Health Partners.
With additional reporting by Caroline Lewis
"Facing huge losses, major city hospital to downsize" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.