Monday, April 26, 2010

Let the Games Begin

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
-- Woody Allen (1935- )

The St. Vincent’s saga has been a long and unpleasant one. One of the most essential institutions in the Downtown neighborhood and certainly the most necessary medical facility -- has been this hospital and emergency room. It would be hard to find a family that has not relied on the top flight Emergency Room and what some have called the best-kept medical secret in New York.

Whether the doctors, nurses, attendants, ambulance personnel and other hospital employees will manage to weather this storm, is yet another story. But, from the AIDS epidemic, to the SARS scare, to the 9-11 disaster, the hospital and its staff has always been there for the community. My only complaint involved the parking. Other than that, they saved my son’s life. Literally.

Lenox Hill, another important Manhattan hospital, is also reportedly in financial trouble. Upper East Side friends have reported long Emergency Room waits, only to spend hours on a gurney in the hallway waiting for attention. The large area of Manhattan without St. Vincent’s leads you away from where you live or where your doctors are affiliated.

Where do you bring your kid in the middle of the night with a 105-degree temperature when an ice bath won’t do it? Where do you take a cab to when the headache pain is so intense that you fear an aneurism? To a new hospital with no doctor you know or who knows you?
At a kid’s party last week one of the 5 year-olds hurt his arm and not knowing where to go we had to drive in rush hour traffic to N.Y.U on 33rd Street. The Downtown mom did not know where to take him. Suppose it were a life-threatening condition?

Forget the Rudin deal, forget the politicians (who also sometimes need a hospital in a hurry), and forget the community organizations that have taken both sides of the fierce opposition to St. Vincent’s development -- in order to save the hospital services.

This is a deal that will only be saved by financial realities.

So, the well-place rumor is that Mount Sinai is ready to do the deal and is in the wings behind curtain #1, pending resolution of the $700 million of St. Vincent’s in debt -- which the new potential suitors will not assume. Shortly, they may not have to, and will take over the hospital operation.

Let’s hope so.

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