By George Capsis
The four crowded, money-losing, and City-owned Brooklyn hospitals that serve that community’s very poorest are projected to lose $2 billion over the next five years. The City is merging them and will soon invite a solution from private consultants and developers. This may mean selling some of the buildings, and it certainly means opening storefront urgent care offices that can do minor operations, from which patients awaken and bus home (ambulatory surgery).
This development exemplifies the agreement by American hospital administrators that the traditional hospital—with built-in, unnecessary expenses and 95% off all medical emergencies that can be handled by urgent care offices, and novice doctors diagnosing and forwarding seriously ill patients to Trauma I or II emergency rooms—is obsolete.
At the recent Mount Sinai presentation discussing the closing of Beth Israel, the physician spokesperson stated that hospital stays were to be avoided—since they offer a miasma of infection—and that efforts were being made to re-create hospital care at home.
In a proposal that echoed that of Mount Sinai, the State said it had set aside $700 million to build storefront urgent care offices and merge the four Brooklyn Hospitals. But, according to Dr. David Kaufman, a Trauma I hospital must have a minimum of 300 beds—and that is what he has prescribed for the Pier 40 facility.
Every time we close a community hospital with a Trauma I emergency room—that can, when you have a heart attack, open your chest and release a blocked artery—it means that you must travel further and further in traffic to find that waiting operating room and poised scalpel.
We can cut the cost of medicine with fewer beds, but we cannot reduce the growing number of poor or the number of heart attacks they will experience. But, as Dr. Kaufman says, while they close operating rooms, “Nobody is counting how many die.”