Beth Israel Hospital UPDATE

Mar 09, 2024

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By VID Executive Committee Member, David Siffert

On February 7, 2024, a community coalition along with a number of individuals and organizations sued Mount Sinai Health System, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, and the Department of Health over Mount Sinai's plans to close Beth Israel Hospital.  The lawsuit alleges the following:

In 2013, Mount Sinai Health System purchased Beth Israel Hospital, promising to improve and expand service.  Almost immediately after the purchase was complete, Mount Sinai started attempting to close the hospital to sell off the real estate underneath it.  Ultimately, over the next several years, they cut substantial amounts of services, though closure was delayed by pending litigation.  

However, just days after a ruling in that first lawsuit in March 2020, COVID hit.  It became clear that Manhattan needed more hospital beds.  After numerous protests and much outrage, Mount Sinai stopped warehousing beds and opened the hospital.  The hospital remained mostly full until June 2021, at which point Mount Sinai -- under community pressure -- announced that COVID made it clear that beds were needed and that they would not close Beth Israel.  In November 2023 -- barely over two years after proclaiming the need for Beth Israel to remain open indefinitely -- with no warning, Mount Sinai announced that they had already filed with the Department of Health to close the hospital.

After filing the closure plan, but without waiting for it to be approved, Mount Sinai began to start shutting down services at the hospital.  On December 21, 2023, DOH issued a cease & desist letter, ordering Mount Sinai to continue providing legally required services until the closure plan is approved or rejected.

Despite the cease & desist letter, it was clear Mount Sinai was still actively gutting the hospital, and so the community sued.  The lawsuit makes a number of allegations.  Against Mount Sinai, the lawsuit alleges that they are cutting services illegally, without permission from the DOH as required by law.  It also alleges that closing the hospital violates several laws, including anti-discrimination laws (especially discrimination on the basis of disability) and environmental review requirements.  Against DOH, the lawsuit alleges that the closure plan is inadequate as a matter of law, and the DOH should be ordered to reject the closure plan.

On February 9, Judge Nicholas Moyne issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), preventing Mount Sinai from closing any beds or services at Beth Israel without permission from both the DOH and the court.  The Judge also indicated that a full hearing would likely occur in late April and that the TRO would be in place until then.

However, Mount Sinai violated both the cease & desist letter and the TRO.  Unbeknownst to most, on February 1, Mount Sinai allowed their primary ambulance contract to lapse, closing most ambulance services at Beth Israel, in violation of the cease & desist order but prior to the issuing of the TRO.

Then, on March 5, Mount Sinai announced that it would be closing services to treat strokes and severe heart attacks.  Mount Sinai admitted that they had moved too many staff out of Beth Israel without replacing them, resulting in an inability to perform such services safely.  

On March 7, the community coalition responded to this announcement by requesting the judge block these closures, hold Mount Sinai in contempt of court, order restoration of safe staffing levels, and order restoration of ambulance services.

We await the Judge's decision.


Click below for attachments:

Letter to Judge Moyne

Community Coalition Petition Complaint


Update July 2024

Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital's closure, initially set for July 12, has been indefinitely postponed due to legal and regulatory challenges. Community advocates and politicians have fiercely opposed the shutdown, leading to a temporary restraining order and rejection of closure plans by the New York State Department of Health (DOH). Despite Mount Sinai's claims of financial unsustainability, critics argue that the hospital's decline results from intentional mismanagement.

Community efforts and promises of more litigation continue to ensure the hospital remains operational, emphasizing its importance to Lower Manhattan's healthcare infrastructure. VID Executive Committee member David Siffert warns that while this is good news, it's only temporary. The real issue is that if DOH approves this closure plan, which could happen at any time, they will immediately try to close.

Source: The VIllage Sun


Recent Article
Beth Israel - stops taking stroke and cardiac patients - Gothamist article, March, 2024