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Plan to rebuild Beth Israel Hospital one block to north

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON    |  A Villager subscriber tipped the newspaper off this week that big changes are afoot at Beth Israel Hospital. Basically, doctors affiliated with the hospital, at E. 16th St. and First Ave., are saying that its administration hopes to rebuild the hospital, ideally at a spot nearby or, failing that, at the current site.

One doctor told the reader that “Mount Sinai Hospital is planning to sell the property Beth Israel is on and relocate the hospital.”

Providing further details, another doctor informed him that, “At a recent meeting of the Beth Israel medical staff, the C.E.O. told them that the plan is to build a state-of-the-art new hospital one block north of the present hospital. Apple, Google and other high-technology firms are to be involved. The plan is to keep the present hospital open until the new hospital is completed and then sell the property. If they cannot get the necessary governmental approvals or secure the new land needed, they will renovate the present hospital.”

The Villager reader spoke on condition of anonymity and declined to identify the two doctors, saying he feared causing a problem for the doctors and jeopardizing his relationship with them.

Asked exactly what the plan is for the venerable Gramercy healthcare hub, a Mount Sinai spokesperson told The Villager, in a statement, “Mount Sinai is committed to serving the community and offering the highest level of patient care. Our vision is to create a state-of-the-art hospital at Mount Sinai Beth Israel with exceptional inpatient and outpatient care, as well as essential emergency facilities. Leadership is currently discussing various options to accomplish these goals. No decisions have been made.”

Asked if he could speak on the telephone in greater detail about the possible scenarios being considered, the spokesperson declined, saying, “We’re going to let our statement stand for now.”

How soon the rebuilding effort would begin wasn’t immediately clear.

Beth Israel’s Linsky Pavillion, on First Ave. at E.16th St.   Photo by Beyond My Ken
Beth Israel’s Linsky Pavillion, on First Ave. at E.16th St. Photo by Beyond My Ken

Mount Sinai merged with Continuum Health Partners nearly two years ago. The group — which is New York City’s largest hospital network — also includes Roosevelt Hospital in Hell’s Kitchen, St. Luke’s Hospital in Morningside Heights and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in the East Village.

Today located between Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square, Beth Israel was initially incorporated in 1890 by a group of Orthodox Jews on the Lower East Side to serve the city’s Jewish immigrants. In 1929, Beth Israel moved to a 13-story building at Stuyvesant Square, and in 1964 it bought the neighboring Manhattan General Hospital on First Ave. After the merger with Mount Sinai in 2013, it officially became known as Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Aron Kay, the “Yippie Pie Man,” 65, has been going to Beth Israel every couple of weeks for the past four of five years to have his chronic leg wounds cleaned out. It’s a medical condition linked to circulation problems, he said.

Told by The Villager about the rumored rebuilding plan, he said it was the first he had heard of it. Asked his thoughts on Beth Israel, he said they are “mixed.”

“I’ve had some good experiences and some bad experiences,” he said. “At least they let me keep my legs. The treatment is good. The bad part of it is when you’re in a hospital room with three people. Sardine healthcare doesn’t cut it with me. There’s a lack of privacy and people are contagious and who knows what you could come down with?”

Kay said he hoped that if the hospital rebuilds, the rooms will be designed to hold fewer patients.

Asked if he was aware of the Mount Sinai Beth Israel plan, a spokesperson for North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, which runs the HealthPlex at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site in the West Village, said he had not. The HealthPlex, which opened last year, has a 24-hour emergency department, though is not a full-service hospital.

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