By Arthur Z. Schwartz
It has been two days since I was wheeled in here (Beth Israel), thinking that I was about to die. However, I didn’t die. Instead, I found myself in a wonderful place, with awakened memories of my last stay here 29 years ago, when my son Jacob was born.
The doctors have been outstanding. The Cath Lab folks and the Emergency Room technicians saved my life by doing their jobs with precision. I have been in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit the whole time, and after a visit from George Capsis, they all wanted to talk.
The Cath Unit is a proud group. They are the first line in saving the lives of people with heart attacks, or those at risk of heart attacks. The surgeons and equipment are top of the line. The nurses have 20 to 30 years of experience.
Last May 26th, Mount Sinai’s President, Kenneth Davis, said that the hospital was “transforming, not closing,” and that “nobody was closing the doors, taking away the keys and telling everyone who is employed here that they are [no longer] employed, [or] telling patients to find another place.” He repeated that “this is not a closure,” but the nurses have told me otherwise.
Other than stent surgery, which is non-invasive, heart surgery no longer takes place at Beth Israel. So, if someone arrives in an ambulance and the ER determines that a bypass is needed, the patient returns to the ambulance and gets sent to Mount Sinai at 99th Street. They said that whole floors are closed down, and that nothing at Beth Israel is being “transformed.” Staff members are leaving in droves since Mount Sinai’s plans aren’t clear.
Perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that there is a constant need for 200 to 300 beds and that the plan for a 70-bed hospital is a joke. Also, Beth Israel takes everyone—insurance and no insurance. They all believe that if Beth Israel closes, Northwell Lenox Health in the West Village will send people to Bellevue, which is an overcrowded City hospital, or Lenox Hill on 77th Street. The nurse said that, in my case, the extra time traveling to 77th Street could have cost me my life.