For over 160 years, St. Vincent’s Hospital was a resource for both the rich and poor constituents of New York City. The hospital put patient care above economic reality. In 2010, the hospital’s weak financial position became public information, which presented a serious problem for this iconic institution. Despite the hospital’s financial circumstances, local support formed and the community spoke out. Other New York City hospitals attempted to save St. Vincent’s from its inevitable demise. Specifically, Mt. Sinai Hospital presented a plan to buy St Vincent’s, which was rejected by the New York State Department of Health. The Sisters of Charity made unreasonable demands on Mt. Sinai, which was forced to walk away. NYU Hospital presented plans to build a hospital at the St. Vincent’s O’Toole site, but, once again, this proposal lost traction and fell by the wayside. No one from the city, state or the federal government spoke up to defend St. Vincent’s future, or the community that it served. Despite the press conferences, politicians that were asked to join the fight to save St. Vincent’s all denied support of this institution and the New York City Dept. of Health had a deaf ear. Everyone, except the local community, wanted and ensured St. Vincent’s demise.
Fast forward to 2013 and St. Vincent’s is no more. Real estate developer Rudin is on track to build luxury condos on 11th and 12th Streets. The government, notably (conveniently) the mayoral candidates, are now discussing the need for a hospital on the Lower West side. It is truly absurd that a hospital needed to die before a new one could be born.
Originally, the community was led to believe that there were more than enough beds for New York City without St. Vincent’s. Generalized statistics show that there are approximately 7 beds for every 1,000 people in New York City; except below 14th Street, there is only a ½ bed for every 1,000 people. It is no surprise that the emergency rooms are overcrowded and cannot manage the patient load. Lower Manhattan desperately needs another hospital. If we can find the right support and funding, a new hospital will rise from the ashes of St. Vincent’s.