NEW YORK NURSE: January/February 2010
As this edition went to press, hundreds of RNs from St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center were preparing to fight the proposed takeover and downsizing of the 160-year-old Greenwich Village facility.
Under a plan submitted to the State Health Department Jan. 22 by Continuum Health Partners, all of the hospital’s acute care, surgical units and emergency services would be shut down within 60 to 90 days after it assumed control and the facility would be converted into a Community Health Center.
This proposal, which must be approved by the Health Department, has the support of two of Saint Vincent’s largest creditors, GE Capital and TD Bank. NYSNA members, however, have responded with shock and even anger.
“Where would we be if the St. Vincent’s emergency room had not been there for 9/11 and the airplane landing on the Hudson River?” said Eileen Dunn, a registered nurse at St. Vincent’s and president of NYSNA’s bargaining unit there. “St. Vincent’s has served the community for 160 years, and can continue to serve the community through a reasonable restructuring plan. Shuttering the doors is not the answer.”
The hospital is $700 million in debt and has been struggling financially for years. St. Vincent’s regional trauma center would be severely scaled back. Because St. Vincent’s is also designated for AIDS treatment and psychiatric care, the proposed take-over could leave the city’s most vulnerable patients at risk.
“This proposed short-sighted takeover by Beth Israel will devastate the community by closing the only acute care facility on the Lower West Side of Manhattan,” said John Hiltunen, a St. Vincent’s RN and member of the NYSNA board of directors.
“St. Vincent’s is integral to the very fabric of the neighborhood and the city,” said Lorraine Seidel, director of NYSNA’s Economic and General Welfare program. “It is one of the cornerstones of Greenwich Village, and it would be tragic to succumb to a plan which disregards the healthcare needs of this community. NYSNA nurses will do all we can to keep St. Vincent’s open.”
NYSNA has started a campaign to call on elected officials to save the hospital so that it may continue to serve the community.
It is encouraging members to e-mail Governor David Paterson (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Health Commissioner Richard Daines (email@example.com) and tell them that St. Vincent’s must stay open and personalize their message with details about what the loss of this facility will mean to the patients they care for.
The fight at the State Capitol to save St. Vincent’s is being led by Senator Thomas Duane, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. Members are asked to contact them to thank them for their support and urge them to keep fighting for Saint Vincent’s and the community it serves.