Members of the New York State Nurses Association and representatives from elected officials’ offices protested outside of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital on Thursday after hospital administrators warned union representatives that St. Luke’s might lose its status as a level one trauma center.
If administrators carry through on their plans, the only level one trauma centers left in Manhattan will be New York-Presbyterian, Harlem Hospital and Bellevue Hospital Center. For residents who live near St. Luke’s, the next nearest level one trauma center is Harlem Hospital, which is located almost two miles away from St. Luke’s.
Standing outside of the hospital’s Morningside Heights location, the workers and activists chanted and discussed their grievances over administrators citing new rule changes by New York that would make it more expensive for the hospital to maintain its level one trauma center status.
“We save lives every day, and lives will be lost if we lose this hospital as a level one trauma center. Patients, community members and caregivers deserve a voice and a say in all decisions about the future of health care in our hospital, because we know best what our community needs,” said Gwen Lancaster, RN, director of the New York State Nurses Association.
Continuum Health Partners, the company that owns the hospital, is in the middle of a merger with Mount Sinai, which would make the hospital system the second biggest in New York next to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. The merger must be approved by the New York State Department of Health and the Federal Trade Commission.
However, Continuum has already issued drastic cuts across the board. Those in attendance at the demonstration said Continuum used the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as an excuse to eliminate the pediatrics and detox units at St. Luke’s. Crain’s New York Business reported that the goal of the hospital was to cut “less profitable” parts of the hospital.
Jill Furillo, RN and executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, spoke with the AmNews about St. Luke’s situation and what ulterior motives Continuum might have.
“When [Continuum] used the hurricane to shut down the pediatric center and shut down the detox center at the hospital, we questioned them on why they didn’t go through the Certificate of Need process,” said Furillo. “They denied that they had and finally admitted that they did, and then they said that they would go through Certificate of Need and shut it down anyway.”
Certificate of Need program goals are to restrain health care facility costs and allowing the planning of new services and construction simultaneously. Most health care facilities undergo these measures.
Furillo told the AmNews that she felt that this—like many things in New York—is all about real estate, pointing to a couple of hospitals in another borough as proof.
“They’ve been slowly trying to bleed this hospital,” said Furillo. “It’s not like they’re shutting the whole thing down like they’re doing at LICH or Interfaith in Brooklyn. But they’re slowly removing services. The nurses believe if they don’t get the resources to maintain a level one trauma center, that’s when everything goes.”