In NYC, A Hospital Emergency

Proximity to a hospital isn't something house-hunters typically give much thought to. Unless that is, the hospital is a high profile one, in the middle of lower Manhattan, and happens to be on the verge of closing.

That's the challenge facing downtown New York residents, and would-be residents, after The New York Post reported Tuesday morning that St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village may be shutting down.

According to the front-page report, Continuum Health Partners has unveiled a plan to take control of the 160-year-old hospital and shut it down. As the Post points out, "The death of St. Vincent's would leave the lower West Side without a full-service hospital."

The change could make the always-trendy (and super-pricey) Greenwich Village just a tad less appealing, at least for anyone who believes they might someday need to visit the emergency room.

Tuesday's headline netted speedy responses; by Wednesday the city's top politicians had lined up against the plan.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Upper West Side liberal who might otherwise have been concentrating on health care reform, issued a statement asking the state to halt the move.

"St. Vincent's is an essential resource for New Yorkers," Nadler said in a statement emailed to HousingWatch. The Congressman reminded us that the hospital has the only Level-1 Trauma Center below 59th Street. Nadler said the state should work with the hospital, community members and elected officials to find an alternative plan that would "preserve St. Vincent's excellence in health care."

For his part, Manhattan's borough president, Scott Stringer, wants to make sure that nothing happens in the dead of night. "We cannot allow tough financial times to once and for all close the doors to St. Vincent's Hospital," Stringer said.

In the battle of issued statements, though, the most intriguing came from Continuum Health Partners itself. The company, which runs three other hospitals in Manhattan, put forth a don't-blame-us argument, saying that its plan "was intended as an alternative to financial liquidation. If St. Vincent is able to continue to meet its mission on its own, they have our full support."

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