Mount Sinai files another plan to shut down Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan

Rally outside Beth Israel hospital
Activists rallied to keep Beth Israel and New York Eye & Ear Infirmary open. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI) filed another application with a revised plan to permanently close its doors, even as community members and local elected officials on the East Side continue the fight to keep it open.

The Mount Sinai Health System filed its most recent application to the NYS Health Department to close Beth Israel, one of the few hospitals located in Lower Manhattan, on May 23. The application comes after the state decided last month to halt the closure temporarily.

The application also includes a revised closure plan that critics say is “woefully inadequate.” amNewYork Metro contacted Mount Sinai Health System for comment about plans for the pending closure, and is awaiting a response.

Mark Hannay, coordinator of the Save Beth Israel and New York Eye & Ear Campaign, said the revised closure plan includes only “modest” improvements from previous plans. The new plan includes help from Mount Sinai to expand the existing emergency department at Bellevue Medical Center — the closest area hospital in Lower Manhattan. 

“It’s woefully inadequate,” Hannay said. “If they want to help build out Bellevue’s ER, fine. If they want to open an urgent care center, fine. But that is not going to meet the needs of the Lower Manhattan community absent a hospital. It just isn’t.”

The state will evaluate Mount Sinai’s new closure plan and decide if the hospital should close by the health-care system’s July 12 deadline. 

Although Beth Israel is slowly dismantling, Hannay does not think the state will allow the hospital to close by July 12. A court case is also underway Hannay said, as part of the process to work out the details of the possible closure. 

“Between the court process and the Albany process, we don’t see how they are going to close by July 12,” he said. “Although publicly Sinai is intending to barge right ahead as fast as they can from their standpoint.” 

City Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan) is among area politicians supporting the community’s work to save the hospital.

“This elimination of services on a hasty timeline without adequate community engagement remains unacceptable and we urge the Department of Health to return this application,” Rivera wrote in a joint statement with other local elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan). “Mount Sinai must engage in a robust and collaborative process to fulfill its obligations to the community in ensuring access to high quality health care is protected in lower Manhattan.” 

The controversy surrounding the hospital’s closure began last September, when Mount Sinai announced abruptly it would close Beth Israel this July 12 primarily due to financial reasons. 

“Due to the changing healthcare landscape and financial reality at MSBI, Mount Sinai Health System has made the difficult decision to close the 16th Street campus,” an announcement on the hospital’s website reads.

The LICH Act passed last month

Since Mount Sinai’s initial announcement left so many people in the dark, anger has been mounting in the neighborhoods surrounding the hospital. Residents say they remain upset at the hospital’s lack of transparency throughout the closure process. 

In response to public uproar about the closing, the NYS Assembly passed the Local Input in Community Healthcare (LICH) Act this year. If the bill becomes law, it would require public notice and public engagement when a hospital seeks to close entirely or one of its major units.  

According to the Save Beth Israel and New York Eye & Ear Campaign, Mount Sinai has been eliminating parts of Beth Israel since it purchased the hospital in 2013. Since then, Mount Sinai has removed several units, including cardiac surgery, linear accelerator service and many beds in physical medicine and rehabilitation, maternity and pediatrics, the campaign said.