Mount Sinai gets backlash over planned hospital closure

Local residents and elected officials packed a town hall meeting on Nov. 28 to voice their opposition and ask questions about Mount Sinai's plan to close its Beth Israel campus in July, The Spirit reported Dec. 4. 

In October, New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System outlined its plan to close the 799-bed teaching hospital in downtown New York. The decision was made "due to the changing healthcare landscape and the unfortunate economic reality at [Mount Sinai Beth Israel]," the health system said in a statement shared with Becker's.

At the town hall, New York City council members Carlina Rivera and Keith Powers asked Mount Sinai representatives if the health system had asked the New York State Department of Health for a state designation, which provides certain hospitals a higher reimbursement rate because they serve a certain level of Medicaid or Medicare patients. Mount Sinai officials said Beth Israel was just below the threshold, according to the report.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine argued that forcing people to visit another hospital will cause a significant problem for downtown residents. 

"There's just no substitute for a standalone hospital," Mr. Levine said. "Beth Israel is also notable in that it serves lower income people in downtown. For people who live in [NYC Housing Authority] developments and [who] are on Medicare, this really is a critical hospital."

Mount Sinai officials said that the Beth Israel campus is under-utilized, running at only 20% to 25% capacity, and has incurred more than $1 billion in losses. It is on track to lose $150 million in 2023 alone. 

"We really considered every possible option since our merger in 2013," Elizabeth Sellman, president and COO of Beth Israel and Mount Sinai Downtown, said at the town hall. "At this point the financial losses are affecting our entire health system."

Mount Sinai plans to gradually shut down some of the hospital's services ahead of its July 12 closure, according to The Spirit. In January, hospital officials aim to stop taking elective cardiac catheterization and interventional radiology cases at Beth Israel and move inpatient elective surgeries to other facilities within the health system.

Beth Israel will remain open with a smaller bed count as Mount Sinai works with regulators to gradually close the hospital campus.

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