Hospital leader hits the groundbreaking running


By Elizabeth O’Brien

New York University Downtown Hospital has entered a growth spurt. As the only hospital in Lower Manhattan, the facility is expanding to keep pace with the area’s growing population and the continued threat of terror attacks.

Next week, the hospital will break ground on its new emergency room, which will nearly double the current capacity. Plans for expanded emergency services had begun before Sept. 11, 2001, but the attack on the World Trade Center forced the hospital to enlarge its vision.

“We always knew we needed to prepare for disasters—we never knew the magnitude of what’s possible,” said Dr. Bruce Logan, who is expected to be named the permanent president and C.E.O. of the hospital this week after serving as the interim leader for a month. He replaces Leonard Aubrey.

On 9/11, the emergency room treated 350 patients in the first two hours after the disaster. To accommodate the 500 people who came in that day, the hospital converted the cafeteria into a treatment area.

The hospital decided after 9/11 to add more decontamination facilities to its new emergency room. Augmenting that and more space, the budget for the project grew from roughly $10 million to $25 million.

Logan said the new, 23,500 square-foot emergency room will be named after Lehman Brothers, the investment-banking firm, which contributed $5 million toward the expansion. Other private donors supported the fund, along with local, state, and federal government, Logan said.

Construction work will not stop with the emergency room. The hospital will continue to renovate its floors, giving them makeovers like the one that transformed the delivery center into a cheery space that attracts Chinese women from Brooklyn and Queens as well as nearby Chinatown.

“You could do ballroom dancing in the bathrooms,” Logan said of the new delivery rooms.

To help fund the renovations, N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital plans to sell the parking lot it owns on a nearby site bordered by Spruce, Beekman, Nassau and Gold Sts. The hospital expects to sell most of the site to a developer sometime next year, but to retain 40,000 square feet for its own outpatient use, Logan said.

The new emergency room will be located in the place of the old one, with the addition of an outdoor courtyard that will be enclosed. Construction on the E.R. is expected to take 18 to 24 months.

Community Board 1 passed a resolution calling for a new public elementary and middle school to be created on the hospital’s parking lot site. With more than 8,000 apartments planned for construction below Canal St., the anticipated population boom in Lower Manhattan has driven the push for both new school and hospital expansion.

Logan said that the hospital would love to have a school on the site, but added that decision would be up to the developer and the city.

Paul Hovitz, chairperson of C.B. 1’s youth and education committee, said he understood that selling the site was crucial for the hospital’s financial health.

“The hospital’s survival comes first, but I think both can be done,” Hovitz said.

Hovitz said that the hospital’s support was critical in helping residents of Southbridge Towers, where he lives, through the events of 9/11. He also cheered the appointment of community-minded Logan as C.E.O.

“He’s an old country doctor is what he is,” Hovitz said.

Logan, whose specialty is internal medicine, has worked at N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital for 23 years. In its 150-year history, the hospital has not had many medical doctors serve as president and C.E.O., said Vanessa Warner, a spokesperson.

A native of Salem, Mass., Logan has worked in New York since he came to attend Columbia University Medical School in 1967. He and his wife, who is from Brooklyn, live in South Orange, N.J. They have two daughters, ages 17 and 19.

Logan said that he takes very seriously the hospital’s position as the only major medical center in Lower Manhattan. The nearest hospitals, including St. Vincent’s, are clustered closer to one another about two miles away.

Said Logan, “We’re it, Downtown.”


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