It’s a lot for one hospital to take on


Lenox Hill Hospital may run an urgent care facility at St. Vincent’s this summer, but nearby medical facilities are already bearing the brunt of the Greenwich Village institution’s demise, particularly crosstown at Bellevue Hospital, which has its own financial burdens.

The nation’s oldest public hospital and the city’s flagship of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation is facing increasing numbers of uninsured patients. Meanwhile, HHC faces a $1 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which could translate to a loss of roughly $100 million to Bellevue.

“In the last two or three days” — since St. Vincent’s ER closed — “there’s been a pretty significant bump not just in the volume, but in the acuity,” Dr. Christopher McShay, Bellevue’s assistant director of emergency services, said.

Bellevue — now Lower Manhattan’s only trauma center — has seen trauma patients double since St. Vincent’s voted last month to shutter. Psychiatric emergencies rose 30 percent and general emergencies increased 14 percent, Bellevue Chief Operating Officer Steven Alexander said.

“It is a somewhat stressed system,” Alexander said. “We try to move people through and focus on patient flow. The staff step up to the plate.” Bellevue staff are working overtime, he noted.

“It’s a very frightening time,” Judy Wessler, director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System, said.

“The private hospitals … will send the uninsured to Bellevue. Can they? No. Do they? Yeah.”

McShay added: “St. Vincent’s had a wonderful mission for charity care.
… We are the safety net now. There’s no one else to turn to.”

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