FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 1, 2010

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, NADLER SEEK HUD MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE TO HELP KEEP ST. VINCENT'S DOORS OPEN


Closing St. Vincent's Emergency Room and Level 1 Trauma Center Would Be Devastating to the Community, Lawmakers Say

Lawmakers to Convene Meeting to Discuss Hospital's Future

New York, NY – With St. Vincent’s Hospital on the brink of bankruptcy, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help the only Level-1 trauma center serving neighborhoods from Midtown to Downtown stave off closure. Lawmakers warned that closing the hospital’s emergency room and trauma center would be devastating to the community.

 

Senator Schumer said, “St. Vincent’s plays a critical role in providing for the health care needs of Lower Manhattan. To lose it would leave a gaping hole in the community, as well as put many hundreds of New Yorkers out of work. The hospital, the state and all levels of government must be creative and focused to forge a solution that allows St Vincent’s to perform its core mission. The effort to engage HUD and FHA is part of that process.”

 

Senator Gillibrand said, “For years, St. Vincent’s Hospital has provided a lifeline for the sick and the poor in New York City. The hospital’s emergency and trauma centers have treated, cared for, and saved countless lives. We must do everything we can to help the hospital and its workers continue to provide first-rate emergency care.”  

 

“We are asking HUD to work with us to ensure that St. Vincent's can keep its doors open and maintain the many vital services it provides to the community," said Congressman Nadler. "It is the only level 1 trauma center below 59th Street and, needless to say, is an indispensable New York institution."

 

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman Nadler asked Secretary Donovan to look into the Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance programs, which offer insurance to health care facilities, as a potential way to help restore the hospital’s fiscal health.

 

Continuum Partners has proposed taking over St. Vincent’s and shutting down its emergency room, inpatient beds, and surgical services within three months. The scaled-back center would focus on primary care and outpatient procedures.

 

In a letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the lawmakers wrote, “Closing St. Vincent’s Emergency Room and Level 1 Trauma Center would be devastating to the local community, and in the event of a catastrophe, would hamstring the City’s ability to cope… The loss of this acute care facility would have a potential devastating impact to all the residents of New York City, but especially to those living on the West side of Manhattan.  Transporting patients to hospitals in other areas of Manhattan would dramatically lengthen the time for patients to receive emergency care.  It is crucial that the West Side of Manhattan have an acute care facility with a 24-hour, 365 day per year emergency room.”

 

This week, federal lawmakers and local elected officials are convening a meeting with HUD, St. Vincent’s Hospital, and GE Capital.

 

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Full letter is below:

 

February 1, 2010

 

Hon. Shaun Donovan

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street S.W.

Washington, DC 20410

 

Dear Secretary Donovan,

 

We write to ask for your assistance in addressing a serious matter in New York City.  It has come to our attention that St. Vincent’s Hospital Center in Manhattan is on the verge of bankruptcy and may have to close its emergency and inpatient services.  We are asking for your Department’s assistance as we and other parties work to address the Hospital’s financial issues. 

 

It is our understanding that HUD offers mortgage insurance through the Federal Housing Administration to health care facilities.  This type of assistance could be a vital element in restoring the fiscal health of St. Vincent’s Hospital by providing critical capital financing. 

 

As the third oldest hospital in New York City, St. Vincent’s has a rich history of providing critical services to those in need.   For over 160 years, St. Vincent’s Hospital has provided emergency care and a full range of health care services to residents of Greenwich Village and other nearby neighborhoods.  St. Vincent’s mission is not just important to its local community, but also to the entire City.  Closing the St. Vincent’s Emergency Room and Level 1 Trauma Center would be devastating to the local community, and in the event of a catastrophe, would hamstring the City’s ability to cope. It is currently the only Level-1 trauma center serving neighborhoods from Midtown to Downtown and it played a crucial role in caring for those affected by the September 2001 terrorist attacks.  In addition, there are approximately 3500 employees at the hospital. In these challenging economic conditions it is important that we work to ensure that those jobs remain secure.

 

The loss of this acute care facility would have a potentially devastating impact to all the residents of New York City, but especially to those living on the West side of Manhattan.  Transporting patients to hospitals in other areas of Manhattan would dramatically lengthen the time for patients to receive emergency care.   It is crucial that the West Side of Manhattan have an acute care facility with a 24-hour, 365 day per year emergency room.

 

Please evaluate any available resources to help this important New York institution. Thank you for your consideration on this matter and we look forward to working with you.

 

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