St. Vincent's Hospital to End Inpatient Services

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Saint Vincent's Hospital, a 160-year-old institution in Manhattan that treated hundreds of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and was at the forefront of the early response to the AIDS epidemic, will cease operating most of its patient services after a prolonged but failed effort to rescue it from massive debt, officials said Tuesday.

The board of directors of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Center voted Tuesday night to close the Greenwich Village hospital's inpatient services, including acute, rehabilitation and behavioral health care services, the organization said in a statement. Its outpatient services - including its HIV/AIDS center, one of the oldest in the country - will continue as the organization seeks partners or other solutions to keep them running.

In a statement, Gov. David Paterson expressed disappointment, but said his goal is to help salvage the hospital's remaining services and create an urgent care center. He said he had directed the state Department of Health to solicit proposals to that end.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg also released a statement, saying that the city had prepared for the possibility that Saint Vincent's would close "weeks ago."

"This outcome is very unfortunate but not unexpected," he said.

It was not immediately clear how long it would take to close the inpatient services. But the hospital's sponsors said that all elective surgeries would end after April 14.

Michael Fagan, a spokesman for the hospital, said in an e-mail that the hospital would work with health officials on a timetable to shutter operations and discharge or transfer patients.

He said the Manhattan hospital has about 3,500 employees and had more than 20,000 inpatient admissions in 2009.

The hospital is $700 million in debt and has defaulted on its Chapter 11 reorganization plan after missing a payment to a trust fund linked to medical malpractice cases.

Henry J. Amoroso, chief executive of St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, blames his institution's failing finances on a series of state budget cuts in the past two years, as well as the recession.

State Senator Tom Duane said he would continue to fight to preserve a 24-hour emergency room and what he called the culturally sensitive community-based primary care that St. Vincent's has provided for Manhattan's Lower West Side neighborhoods. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office says the speaker will join a rally at 11 o'clock this morning.

The 727-bed hospital was the closest hospital to the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terror attacks and took in more than 800 people injured as the towers collapsed.

The last Catholic-affiliated hospital in New York City, St. Vincent's was opened by four nuns in 1849 with 30 beds in an East 13th Street brownstone that first took in victims of a cholera epidemic, then served generations of poor immigrants. In 1911, it treated the survivors of the city's worst fire, the blaze at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where 146 young women died.