First, let’s set the record straight: Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI) is not closing; it’s relocating and downsizing. This is not St. Vincent’s. This is a $500 million investment to transform and enhance services. Second, this is a four-year process, and all MSBI services will be uninterrupted and continue to be offered within our system. Third, the current Emergency Department (ED) will remain open until the new ED facility is completed.
Now, let’s talk about why this is necessary.
It’s no secret that healthcare delivery across the country is undergoing a seismic shift, with population health management, which emphasizes keeping entire communities healthy and out of the hospital, replacing the traditional fee-for-service model. Hospital use has been declining as patients look to receive care outside traditional hospital settings, and state and federal governments prioritize funding for coordinated care in these nontraditional settings. Nineteen hospitals have been forced to close in New York City alone since 2000. However, MSBI will not be one of them.
MSBI is falling victim to the same trends as the other hospitals. On average, less than sixty percent of the hospital’s licensed beds are occupied, and patient volume at the financially troubled hospital has decreased by double digits since 2012. Furthermore, much of the existing MSBI infrastructure is aging and unable to meet the needs of the modern healthcare landscape.
To address this, rather than close, we are choosing to transform MSBI, changing the way we deliver care in order to improve access, increase quality and preserve jobs. The new “Mount Sinai Downtown” will be an expanded and unified network of state-of-the-art facilities stretching from the East River to the Hudson River below 34th St., designed to serve patients in the most appropriate setting.
The four-year transformation is anchored around a new, smaller Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital with approximately 70 beds - combined with our existing 153 behavioral health beds - and a brand-new state-of-the-art Emergency Department. We are planning a robust expansion of walk-in facilities, with three major sites performing surgeries; an extensive network of 16 physician practice locations with more than 600 doctors; and a substantial investment in our behavioral health services, which will actually remain in the Bernstein Pavilion on MSBI’s campus as part of our Comprehensive Behavioral Health Institute. This revolutionary network of greatly expanded services will be able to address the healthcare needs of today and the future.
What this really means is that patients will have access to convenient care, close to home and work. That means seeing your doctor just blocks from home or getting a lab test done during your lunch break. Patients can continue to see the same doctors they know and trust.
Mount Sinai’s innovative Hospital at Home program exemplifies these new services, and will be an integral aspect of the downtown transformation. Because of advances in medical technology, patients that would have previously required treatment in an inpatient setting can increasingly receive care in outpatient facilities, or even there own home, unburdened by lengthy and expensive hospital stays. Our Mobile Acute Care Teams can simultaneously monitor significant numbers of patients in their own homes through telemetry and smartphone apps.
While this transformation does mean that Mount Sinai Downtown will have fewer inpatient beds than it currently does, recent data show that New York City has a surplus of hospital beds that go unused. A 2014 Community Needs Assessment from Mount Sinai found that there were six beds for every 1,000 people in Manhattan, versus three for every 1,000 in New York City broadly. And the number of empty beds continues to grow despite hospital closures. A city analysis determined that, on average, 25 percent of beds were empty in 2012, and that number increased to 29 percent in 2014.
But this is not about beds; this investment is about enhancing and improving services and care. This is the future of healthcare.
We are transforming MSBI and how we deliver care because we believe it is the best way to continue to enhance and deliver comprehensive, high-quality services to the downtown community.
We are proud to honor Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s commitment to the community as we move forward and we hope you will work with us as we continue to adapt to this new model of care to bring better services and better care to everyone.
Somerville, a registered nurse, is president of Mount Sinai Beth Israel