Hospital’s great catch 

After 15 years at the helm of Village Care of New York, Arthur Webb is moving on to become chief operating officer of St. Vincent’s Hospital. When Webb arrived at V.C.N.Y. — which operates the Village Nursing Home on Hudson St. and the Rivington House AIDS residence on the Lower East Side, among others — it was an $18 million operation; by this year’s end, it will be a $145 million organization.

V.C.N.Y. treats and cares for thousands of people each year, be they seniors or people with H.I.V./AIDS, and our community is much the better for it.

Ensuring its viability into future decades, V.C.N.Y. is building a new, state-of-the-art nursing home on West Houston St. This facility will replace the cramped, outdated Village Nursing Home, which will be sold to help finance the new project.

Webb leaves behind a competent staff to continue his good work.

In short, Webb has put V.C.N.Y. on firm footing to continue providing quality care into the 21st century. His efforts there are a model of how to run — and grow — a healthcare agency amid ongoing healthcare cuts, not to mention, now, a severely contracting economy.

Webb well understands both the intricacies and exigencies of healthcare at the state and federal levels from his many years in state government at health-related agencies. And he knows the Village inside and out from his time at V.C.N.Y. and his active participation in the neighborhood’s civic life.

Making sure the city’s last Catholic hospital survives and flourishes is what St. Vincent’s rebuilding project is all about. The hospital helps serves the broader Downtown area with a convenient west side location for many in Lower Manhattan. The new hospital, as planned, will contain acute services and related services, as well as the emergency room. The hospital says it has pared to the bone the absolutely required uses it would house in this new building.

Webb isn’t taking on this new role because he needs a “second career.” He’s doing it because he wants to help St. Vincent’s achieve a worthy, and necessary, goal. And it gives us renewed confidence in the hospital that it has picked a person of Webb’s caliber and qualifications for its team.

Webb and Bernadette Kingham-Bez, St. Vincent’s senior vice president, assure that, despite the economic climate, the hospital will press on with its project. It’s a lengthy one with plenty of hurdles ahead, like Landmarks review and the city’s rezoning procedure, both of which will require openness, flexibility and strong community relations. And after that, vast sums must be raised to fund a world-class health complex for this century. If approved, the new hospital wouldn’t be ready for occupancy for at least six years — so the economy may rebound somewhat by then.

But St. Vincent’s hiring Webb is an excellent move, and a good sign to the community that the hospital intends to do this the right way. As it tries to push through a project facing stiff community opposition from some quarters, St. Vincent’s is lucky to have a man like Webb in its corner.