Mount Sinai ‘leaning toward’ adding extra floors on new E.V. mini-hospital

A rendering of the design for the new Mt. Sinai Downtown Beth Israel East Village mini-hospital on Second Ave. between E. 14th and E. 13th Sts.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Mon., Feb. 5, 11:50 a.m.: Mount Sinai Health System is currently “leaning toward” building an extra four floors atop its new mini-hospital in the works in the northwestern corner of the East Village.

While “nothing is set in stone,” Mount Sinai is “strongly considering” including the additional levels “as part of the initial build,” a source recently told The Villager.

The new mini-hospital will rise on the east side of Second Ave. between E. 13th and E. 14th Sts. and will be called Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel. Construction is slated to begin early this year and finish by late 2020.

Mount Sinai is shutting down its historic hospital in Gramercy, most of which dates to 1927, just a few blocks away at E. 16th St. and First Ave.

The new mini-M.S.D.B.I. hospital will be the flagship of an expansive new Mount Sinai Downtown health network, covering Manhattan south of 34th St.

Previously, hospital officials had discussed possibly constructing additional space atop the new East Village mini-hospital later on, should it be needed. They always voiced this at public meetings and it was stated during presentations, that the hospital would be built with the capacity to have more floors added later on down the road.

But now, Mount Sinai is “leaning toward building them as part of the new hospital from the start,” the source told the paper.

“We do not plan to use the extra floors for beds,” he stressed. “However, if trends dramatically shift, we would have the space to add beds, should the need arise. Again, we still believe the 220 beds are the correct number, but the extra floors will give us more flexibility.”

All of those beds would not all be located at the new mini-hospital, however. That, as currently planned, would have 70 inpatient beds. The other 150 beds are current ones that Mount Sinai will be keeping for its behavioral health patients at its nearby Bernstein Pavilion, on E. 16th St. at Stuyvesant Square.

As for the extra floors at the new mini-hospital they would, at least initially, be used for “programmatic use” — meaning for various services supporting the hospital.

A schematic rendering showing the planned new Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel mini-hospital, on Second Ave. between E. 13th and E. 14th Sts. Hospital officials are now reportedly saying it’s pretty likely that an extra four floors will be added atop the longer, southern building, on E. 13th St., which would give the new scaled-down hospital more bed capacity — if, in fact, more beds are needed.

Mount Sinai released an official statement to The Villager regarding the additional floors:

“As we have stated from the start, we are continuing to evaluate all of our options, including possibly building the extra four floors as part of the initial build,” the statement said.

“We have always committed to an open and transparent process, and after listening to the concerns from local leaders and constituents, as well as our internal advisers and leaders, we are currently leaning toward building the extra four floors for programmatic use, not beds.

“We still believe that 220 beds will best meet the needs of the community. However, if we see a dramatic change in the future, we will be better prepared and have greater flexibility to address that issue with these additional floors already built. We will continue to update the community as our progress continues.”

At public forums and in discussions with hospital officials over the past couple of years, local politicians have constantly pushed the health system not to wait to add the extra floors, but to include them in the scaled-down-hospital’s initial construction.

“There’s a lot of anxiety among my constituents that our hospitals are being chipped away,” Councilmember Corey Johnson said at a community forum on the rebuilding plan last April. “Build those four stories with additional beds now, and don’t wait to see if they’re needed in the future.”

The current Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital is licensed for a total of 799 beds. However, as of around a year ago, only about 450 beds were being used on a daily basis — including 300 general inpatient beds and, again, the 150 behavioral health beds. That number has since dropped further, so that at the moment, on average, about 400 inpatient beds are being used daily. As par for the downsizing plan, Mount Sinai has been relocating certain services from Mount Sinai Beth Israel to other hospitals within its health system.

Speaking at that same community forum last April mentioned above, Dr. Jeremy Boal, the head of the Mount Sinai Downtown healthcare network, said, “We’ve had a 10 percent annual decrease in patient admissions since 2012, and the rate of overall empty beds continues to increase. So we feel that there’s a greater need to build more ambulatory services in order to better address the needs of the community. We want to build a multi-campus healthcare system below 34th St. and across Manhattan from river to river.”

Carlina Rivera, the East Village’s new councilmember, was happy to hear that Mount Sinai is leaning toward constructing a bigger building with the capacity for more beds.

Johnson, who earlier this month was elected the City Council’s new speaker, appointed Rivera chairperson of the Council’s Committee on Hospitals, which is a brand-new committee. She noted she will be meeting with Mount Sinai this coming week.

“Absolutely! I’m glad to hear it!” Rivera said in response to the news. “It’s a good idea. They’ve been listening to us. We’ve been having a lot of meetings,” she said regarding all the community forums that have been held on the hospital rebuilding project.

Rivera, who was formerly a Democratic district leader, has been among the elected officials repeatedly stressing to Mount Sinai at those meetings and elsewhere that 70 hospitals beds simply is not enough to meet the community’s health needs.

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