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Emergency Room at St. Vincent’s Site Will Open in June

The Maritime Union Building, which once housed St. Vincent’s Hospital, is being renovated by North Shore-LIJ for use as an emergency and comprehensive care center. | NORTH SHORE-LIJ

The Maritime Union Building, which once housed St. Vincent’s Hospital, is being renovated by North Shore-LIJ for use as an emergency and comprehensive care center. | NORTH SHORE-LIJ

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The North Shore-LIJ Health System has announced it will open its new comprehensive care center, under construction in Greenwich Village at the former site of St. Vincent’s Hospital, in late June.

In a March 6 press release, North Shore-LIJ said the facility, to be housed in the historic National Maritime Union Building on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets, will be called the Lenox Hill HealthPlex. For the last four decades that St. Vincent’s operated, it was called the O’Toole Building.

Lenox Hill HealthPlex, the release said, “represents a new model of community-based care that integrates health and wellness services with seamless access to 24-hour emergency care and a full range of medical specialists.”

North-Shore-LIJ says phase one of $150 million project to be supplemented later by more comprehensive services

The June opening represents only the first phase of the more than $150 million project, with the debut of Manhattan’s first freestanding emergency center, which will provide patients with around-the-clock access to board-certified emergency physicians, specialty trained nurses, specialist consultations, and other healthcare professionals.

Future plans for Lenox Hill HealthPlex include imaging services, an ambulatory surgery suite, home care, and other programs designed to meet the Lower West Side’s current and future needs.

Michael Dowling, president and chief executive officer of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, said, “In the shadows of buildings that housed St. Vincent’s Hospital for 160 years, Lenox Hill HealthPlex represents the dawning of a new era of healthcare for West Side residents, who have had to travel out of their neighborhoods to access emergency and other critical healthcare services for the past four years.”

North Shore-LIJ Health System has 16 hospitals across the metropolitan area, including Lenox Hill Hospital and the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, both on the Upper East Side.

Renovation working going in inside the Maritime Union Building.  | NORTH SHORE-LIJ

Renovation working going in inside the Maritime Union Building. | NORTH SHORE-LIJ

The HealthPlex Emergency Center, which will occupy the first floor of the six-story building will be staffed and equipped to accommodate up to 45,000 emergency visits annually, according to Dr. John D’Angelo, senior vice president of emergency medicine at North Shore-LIJ. It will serve as a receiving facility for the city’s 911 Emergency Medical System, have 24/ 7 access to lab services and advanced radiology, and include an ambulance to transport patients who need to be hospitalized.

“The advanced life-support capabilities at the facility will enable local residents to receive emergency care at their most critical time of need,” D’Angelo said.

Among other areas of expertise, the HealthPlex will also include sexual-assault nurse examiners who have received special training to perform evidentiary exams for rape victims.

The emergency center anchoring this neighborhood medical complex is “based on a successful model for emergency care being implemented across the country,” according to North Shore-LIJ.

“The approach is designed to reduce waiting times and enhance customer convenience for emergency care that is efficient, accessible, and linked to a continuum of care available to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay,” D’Angelo said.

To ensure success, the press release states, Lenox Hill HealthPlex is drawing on the collective knowledge of North Shore-LIJ’s 200 emergency physicians, more than 300 paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and roughly 2,000 emergency department staff, who have gained their experience operating 14 emergency departments that treated nearly 665,000 people and transported more than 102,000 patients in 2013.

North Shore-LIJ’s $150 million commitment is for interior renovation of the 50-year-old Maritime Union Building, designed by Albert Ledner and completed in 1964. All of the structure’s exterior nautical features will be maintained.

“We took great pains to respect the architecture of this landmarked building, recognizing the distinctive character of the West Village,” said John Gupta, executive director of the Lenox Hill HealthPlex.

Gupta added that, in addition to “filling a healthcare void on the West Side,” the new medical complex will bring hundreds of new jobs to the neighborhood, giving a boost to small businesses that have suffered in the wake of St. Vincent’s closing.

Among its outreach efforts to the community, the HealthPlex has created a partnership with the LGBT Center on West 13th Street. Last year, Lenox Hill donated $100,000 to the AIDS Memorial that will be created in the park located in the triangle across from the HealthPlex, at the intersections of Seventh and Greenwich Avenues and West 12th Street.

Neighborhood critics of the new facility have repeatedly slammed it — and may well continue to do so — for not being a full-service hospital with many beds, like the old St. Vincent’s. The HealthPlex will only have two beds, which will not be used for long-term patient stays. If patients require longer or more intensive treatment, they’ll be transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

Still, in the years since St. Vincent’s was shuttered, many local residents said their top priority was to restore a top-notch emergency room to the neighborhood. North Shore-LIJ’s release emphasized that HealthPlex’s ER capacity will be significant and soon supplemented by the services the comprehensive care center under development will offer.

The new facility, taken as a whole, does represent a growing trend in healthcare nationwide.

“As part of a new model of care that North Shore-LIJ is developing for the communities it serves across the metropolitan area,” the press release states, “the HealthPlex’s vast emergency capabilities will be complemented by imaging services, an ambulatory surgery suite, rehabilitation, health/ wellness, home care, and other comprehensive medical programs that will be rolled out in future years.”

North Shore-LIJ is one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems. Its 16 hospitals, plus long-term care facilities, have more than 6,000 beds, employ more than 10,000 nurses, and have affiliations with more than 9,400 physicians. With a workforce of more than 47,000, North Shore-LIJ is the largest private employer in New York State.

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