By Roger Paradiso
“This was a well-thought-out plan,” said Tom Shanahan, a lawyer for a group of former St. Vincent doctors and nurses suing St. Vincent’s. “They wanted out and had to justify it to the state. They were running it into the ground.”
DA Cy Vance’s team is looking into whether vendors double-billed for services, gave kickbacks for contracts and hired relatives of hospital employees, sources said.
New York Post article August 2011
There was a board meeting. It was not announced to the public. It was not open to the public. Many people who were concerned about the hospital thought there would be a takeover of St. Vincent’s by Mt. Sinai Hospital or that someone, like the City, would bail them out.
As activist attorney Arthur Schwartz said: ‘I don’t have inside info, but I recall that negotiations between the Catholic Church and Mt. Sinai had reached a successful point, so much so that Mt. Sinai doctors were all over St. Vincent’s, meeting with staff, getting familiar with its various facilities, and even making offers to staff. There was one sticking point. Mt. Sinai wanted to have the benefit of St. Vincent’s Medicaid reimbursement rate, which was higher than Mt. Sinai’s because St. Vincent had such a large percentage of uninsured patients from NYCHA developments in Chelsea and from Chinatown…
They met with the Dept. of Health and DOH said “no.” That killed the deal. The Health Commissioner, the late Dr. Richard Daines, believed that there were too many hospital beds in NYC, and favored closing hospitals all over. He intentionally killed the deal. Governor Paterson, who had advanced $10 million or more to keep the St. Vincent afloat did not intervene. In my opinion, this happened because the local political leaders didn’t fight for it. Not Christine Quinn, the City Council Member, not Tom Duane, the State Senator, not Deborah Glick, the Assemblyperson, not Jerry Nadler, the Congressperson. Several days later St. Vincent’s filed for bankruptcy.”
It should be noted that many in the community felt blindsided. “How could they shut down St. Vincent’s Hospital?” they shouted in the streets. There were many demonstrations outside of the hospital for days after the news.
Carol Yost who was one of the demonstrators and also a local activist said about the politicians: “They’ve all done some good for New York City, but in regard to St. Vincent’s, nothing. Brad Hoylman, Christine Quinn, Deborah Glick are all names that come to mind. But Charles Barron, as I recall, is the one Councilmember who spoke out in favor of St. Vincent’s until Speaker Quinn told him to pipe down and sit down.”
Bill Rudin was being courted to pay millions and to make much more off of the carcass of St. Vincent’s Hospital. Yost said, “Bill Rudin was so sure of getting ULURP approval that he started getting rid of the hospital equipment and dismantling things internally months before he got the actual approval.”
“By March of 2012, Quinn was hailing a grand bargain struck by the City Council, the Bloomberg administration and Rudin development. As part of the deal to clear the way for Rudin’s hundreds of luxury units and town houses, the neighborhood got a new elementary school, a 15,000-square-foot park, an AIDS memorial and commitments for additional historic preservation—but no hospital. At the St. Vincent’s site there would be the freestanding emergency room. The project was also scaled down from its initial design.
The issue would haunt Quinn in her bid for the Democratic mayoral nomination, when her critics went wall to wall with negative ads linking her ultimate support of the St. Vincent’s redevelopment plan to the nearly $30,000 she got from a half-dozen Rudin executives in campaign contributions…”
– Bob Hennelly, CityandStateNewYork.com
George Capsis, the publisher of WestView News has been on a quest to get a new hospital to replace the lost St. Vincent’s. He went to a community meeting at PS 41 in 2011. He heard a man named Dowling talk about replacing St. Vincent’s with an emergency room. As George wrote “I got up and said I was concerned about people who had to be transferred to hospitals far away. “You’ll never get a hospital,” declared Michael J. Dowling in his Limerick accent, “it will cost a billion dollars” receiving a roar of rage from a packed West Village audience at PS 41. This was after North Shore LIJ and Rudin were successful in the bankruptcy court over the 11 buildings of St. Vincent’s for a mere $230 million in April 2011.”
Two years later George had an encounter with Dr. Stephen Berger who was chair of the Berger Commission, which had said in 2006 that there were too many hospitals and beds and too many hospitals in financial trouble. This encounter caused George to wonder if there was an overall plan to destroy St. Vincent’s. George wrote about this encounter in 2013.
“I ran into Berger at a conference in downtown Manhattan. I said “Mr. Berger, my name is George Capsis, and this is my newspaper, and for three months I have been trying to get you on the phone…” Trying to avoid George, Berger said something like “If you didn’t give Rudin such a hard time, you would have a hospital.” George was stunned as this comment came out of the blue and was incorrect.
“And finally, as I emerged from the hotel, I watched Berger get into a limousine as a passenger who was getting in the front seat stood and looked at me with an “I know you” smile. I could have sworn it was one of the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System suits.”
– George Capsis, WestView News 2013
Politics makes strange hospital bedfellows. Northwell Health emerged from the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System. Northwell is a nonprofit integrated healthcare network. It is one of the largest health care providers and private employers in New York State. Michael Dowling, who told George he would never get a hospital, is the president of Northwell. Northwell operates the Lenox Health Greenwich Village Emergency Center which opened in 2014.
Stephen Berger (The Berger Commission) indirectly closed St. Vincent’s and many other hospitals when his report was released in 2006.
“The Commission will make final recommendations on rightsizing New York State’s hospitals and nursing homes by December 1, 2006. These recommendations will include possible consolidation, closure, conversion, and restructuring of institutions, and reallocation of local and statewide resources. If the recommendations are approved by the Governor and the Legislature, they become law, and must be implemented by the Commissioner of Health.”
– Commissioner Stephen Berger”
This was taken from the website of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21stCentury.
Sister Jane Iannucelli, a Sister of Charity, was on the board. Her office confirmed this quote that appeared in America: The National Catholic Review not long after the closure. “Jane Iannucelli of the Sisters of Charity, a St. Vincent’s board member, faulted the state’s Department of Health for the closure. “I think the easiest way to explain why… St. Vincent’s is closing its doors tomorrow is that the state Department of Health said there is no need for an acute care hospital in Greenwich Village,” Iannucelli told the publication. “And while St. Vincent’s had many problems, they were on their way to being fixed. But with the Department of Health saying there’s no need for an acute care hospital here, the board had no choice but accept a vote to close.