As services wither at Mount Sinai hospital, patient care declines: Report

The shedding of service lines at Mount Sinai's Beth Israel Hospital is hurting the quality of patient care, The New York Times reported May 16. 

Leaders of the hospital, part of New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System, have been eyeing a closure for years because of financial losses. In September 2023, Beth Israel announced its plan to gradually shutter, but conflicts with community members, the state's health department and a judge have caused delays and more problems, the Times reported. 

In October, the hospital said it planned to fully close by July 12. Two months later, the New York State Department of Health ordered the health system to stop cutting services and closing beds without authorization. Since then, Beth Israel has ended its stroke and cardiac services and routinely transferred patients out of its emergency department — reasoning that voluntary staff departures have left some services unsustainable. 

A New York judge has also temporarily blocked Mount Sinai from closing Beth Israel, and the state's health department said the system's closure plan is incomplete and needs revision.  

In April, the department told Mount Sinai its "proposed date of closure may need to be adjusted to reflect this new plan."

The "slow death," as the Times put it, is negatively affecting patient care. When patients show up to the hospital for a historical service only to be transferred, care is delayed and more harm can happen — like for George Faust, 76, who entered Beth Israel's ER with a collapsed lung and broken ribs in January before being moved to two other hospitals and dying. 

A few weeks later, a man with signs of a stroke arrived at the ER, but there was a delay in the stroke team responding and he was transferred, state investigators said. The hospital disputed this, saying he was examined within 9 minutes, the Times reported. 

A spokesperson for Mount Sinai told Becker's the system has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the hospital, but with losses higher than $1 billion, "financial realities require us to make decisions based on what is best for our health system" and close Beth Israel.

"No system could continue to sustain losses of this magnitude," the spokesperson said, adding that the healthcare industry is moving away from community hospitals and toward new, community-based models of care.

Mount Sinai said it is losing $15 million a month to keep Beth Israel open, a cost that could rise if it is forced to reopen service lines, the Times reported. 

"Refusing to allow a failing independent, nonprofit hospital to close is unconstitutional," the hospital told the Times.

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