Code Blue: Now it's St. Vincent's Hospital on Life Support
The hospital is on the brink of running out of money
St. Vincent's Hospital has been an icon in the West Village of Manhattan for generations. As the only trauma center in a five mile section of the West Side, it received patients and provided supports services on and after 9/11/2001. Now, hemorrhaging cash at the rate of up to $10 million per month, and paying interest on $300 million in outstanding loans, St. Vincent's could soon be swallowed up by a more stable hospital group, Continuum Health Partners.
But Continuum reportedly would make dramatic cuts in services, effectively decommissioning the last Catholic hospital left in New York City. "It would be my hope and prayer that government, business and health care leaders could work closely with the administration...to see if there is some way this valuable medical facility could be saved," said Archbishop Timothy Dolan. But the archdiocese, which gave up ownership interest in St. V's (as it's widely known) years ago, has little leverage to produce an outcome favorable to patients. "You want a hospital in your neighborhood," said native West Villager Sean Murphy, "this is St. Vincent's! They're going to take it away?!?"
In the end, it may not be so much of a taking as the expiration of a failed business. The hospital has "not remained competitive within its market," a New York State health department statement reads. In a statement of his own, St. V's CEO Henry Amoroso blames "eight separate budget cuts from New York State" and the "worst recession" for the center's "challenges." But Continuum has emerged from the same economic and political storm in much healthier shape, and sources close to ongoing talks between the two say CEO Amoroso is convinced that some sort of partnership is necessary for St. Vincent's to survive.
Any deal would have to be reviewed by the health department, where the commissioner, Dr. Richard Daines, is a former CEO of Continuum. That's raised questions, with Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer calling for "exploration of the relationship" by the governor before any takeover plan moves forward. The commissioner's spokeswoman responds the borough president "is misinformed. Commissioner Daines has no financial connection to Continuum...the borough president is welcome to join the department in its efforts to find a solution, particularly if he can find the $5 million to $10 million a month needed to keep St. Vincent's operating."
Should a takeover occur, collateral damage would almost certainly include the euthanizing of a high profile $1.6 billion modernization plan that was just approved by the City's Landmarks Commission last fall.