St. Vincent's Midtown to Receive $17 Million to Implement Berger Measures

Albany, NY (August 30, 2007) – Today New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., announced that St. Vincent's Midtown Hospital in Manhattan will receive $17 million to assist the facility in closing as required under the mandates of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, known as the Berger Commission.

The award is the first to be approved by the Department of Health and the State Dormitory Authority from total funding of up to $550 million that was designated for assisting hospitals and nursing homes in implementing the provisions of the Berger Commission. The funding was made available through the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers (HEAL NY) and the Federal-State Health Reform Partnership (F-SHRP). Over the coming weeks the Department will be announcing additional grants as award decisions are made.

"St. Vincent's Midtown has moved expeditiously to comply with the Berger Commission's mandate for closure and for the relocation of its ambulatory and outpatient services," said Commissioner Daines. "I want to commend the hospital on its well-ordered plan for closure."

The Berger Commission recommended that St. Vincent's Midtown Hospital close in an orderly fashion, and that its psychiatric beds and ambulatory services should be transferred and operated by St. Vincent's Manhattan Hospital or other sponsors. By legislation, the Berger recommendations became law on January 1, 2007, with an implementation deadline of June 30, 2008.

St. Vincent's Midtown has reported that it will not accept any new patients beginning Friday, August 31. It is moving its primary care, urgent care, cardiovascular screening, and HIV/AIDS screening services to the facility's Comprehensive Family Health Center on West 51st Street. HIV and AIDS treatment services will be relocated to the St. Vincent's Manhattan campus on West 11th Street.

St. Vincent's Midtown is negotiating directly with the state Office of Mental Health and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services for the transfer of its 12 psychiatric beds and its Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program to other appropriate locations in Manhattan.

"The State Health Department is monitoring operations at St. Vincent's Midtown to ensure that quality of care is maintained during the closure process and that patients and their records are transferred to other providers in a safe and orderly manner," said Daines.

The state funding awarded to St. Vincent's Midtown will supplement facility spending to retire its outstanding debts, pay for professional and legal fees associated with the closure, cover operating losses during the closure, and provide severance pay and related personnel expenses.

"The nonpartisan commission that handed up the Berger recommendations had a simple goal: to reform New York's health-care system to improve quality and affordability, and to make it more responsive to current health-care needs," said Commissioner Daines.

"Simply put, we have too many hospitals and nursing homes at a time when the demand for health-care services by New Yorkers is shifting to non-hospital and non-nursing home settings," he said. "Many tests and surgical procedures once performed in hospitals are now available in office-based settings. And more elderly and disabled New Yorkers are choosing to receive health care services in their homes rather than in nursing homes. Empty hospital and nursing home beds are costly to New York taxpayers because facilities must pay for staff and maintenance to keep them up."

Daines said that most of the facilities the Berger Commission selected for closing are facilities with a history of financial difficulty that are providing duplicative services or services that could easily be provided by another facility serving the same area. He said that implementing the Berger recommendations will make the remaining hospitals and nursing homes financially stronger, as they will experience higher occupancy rates, which in turn will allow them to upgrade their facilities to provide modern technology and patient conveniences.