“But we will only be able to truly address the systemic healthcare inequities that were exposed by COVID-19 at Mount Sinai and beyond if the full breadth of community demands are met,” Rivera said.
That includes restoring previously removed inpatient beds and medical services, such as labor and delivery, as well as a commitment to improved community feedback, she said.
“My daughter was born” at Beth Israel, said Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, who represents the district in the Legislature. “I want to ensure others can be born there as well.”
Epstein said he understands that reopening certain programs requires patient volume to be viable. He said he will inform the community to consider supporting the hospital for their medical needs.
Community residents had expressed concerns about losing so many hospital beds even before the pandemic, said Sen. Brad Hoylman, who also represents the district in the Legislature.
“While Mount Sinai has committed to keeping the existing building, we don’t know what the future hospital will look like,” Hoylman said.
Beth Israel must ensure that there is ample opportunity for public review as it moves forward, he added.
The hospital had been criticized for a perceived lack of transparency over its decision to downsize and its stoppage of various programs, said Arthur Schwartz, president of Advocates for Justice Legal Foundation, a Financial District–based pro bono organization. Schwartz had sued Beth Israel over the relocation plans and the closure of its cardiac program in 2017.
“There’s nowhere south of [NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue] to have a baby,” Schwartz said. “They closed the program without public review, and now people would have to go to NYU or Lenox Hill.”
Just as political leaders said they would work with Mount Sinai to ensure its future revamp meets the need of downtown residents, Schwartz said he would advocate for close public participation in each step of the process.
“This is a critical issue I will push as a litigator,” he said.