Some Greenwich Villagers Keep Hospital Hopes Alive

Some Greenwich Village residents continue to lobby for a restored hospital in the area, 10 months after St. Vincent's Medical Center closed.

One-hundred of them met last night to discuss the St. Vincent's bankruptcy proceedings and consider various strategies. Lawyer Tom Shanahan said this is not a regular bankruptcy where a court oversees a company selling off assets to pay its debts.

"This is a hospital that took public funds for years and years and years," Shanahan said. "They got special zoning variances from the city of New York.  So this is not a completely private entity that goes out of business. It's not a steak house. It's not a restaurant. It's not a bar. It's a hospital."

Shanahan has not succeeded so far in courts.

He and others at the meeting are lobbying politicians to limit the zoning in the area so that the St. Vincent's property won't be developed into housing or offices and would have to remain a hospital, at least in part.

Dr. David Kaufman, who worked at St. Vincent's for more than three decades, was one of the people leading last night’s meeting.

"We can't just let them sell this property and build nothing but new condos," Kaufman said. "My belief is that we can have a hospital and still satisfy the real estate interests and needs and meet the needs of this community."

Kauffmann noted the state government provided more than $30 million to save Long Island College Hospital -- funding which came from a much larger, nearly $700 million-grant package.

But Governor Andrew Cuomo has put a hold on that entire program. Cuomo's focused on cutting the $53 billion Medicaid budget -- something that's more likely to lead to closing hospitals than to opening them.

Only one elected official turned up last night. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer promised to lend office space and staff time to help the community efforts.

"We're in a situation now where we don't want to give up," Stringer said. "We don't want this neighborhood to fall, like so many neighborhoods have, and simply give up on the health care system."