NYU Med Center Critics Say Hospital Under-Serves City's Poor

NYU Medical Center recently made public its plans for expansion but critics call it one of the city's worst when it comes to serving the city's poor.

The hospital, which announced Wednesday that it will nearly triple the size of its Emergency Department, received far fewer uninsured and Medicaid patients than any other hospital in the city, according to public data for 2008 and 2009.

“It actually has the worst record of any hospital of being available for Medicaid patients, low-income patients, certainly for the uninsured," said Judy Wessler, of the Commission for the Public's Health System.

About 11 percent of NYU's patients were on Medicaid or uninsured -- a fraction of most other city hospitals, according to 2008 data.

NYU said its staff sees low-income patients at nearby Bellevue, a public hospital. NYU also says its emergency room complies with federal law, does not turn anyone away and does not control where ambulances bring patients.

The expansion will be financed primarily by $64 million in tax-exempt bonds -- the typical mechanism for underwriting large hospital projects -- with the help of some private donors. It also comes on the heels of the closure of Saint Vincent's Hospital.