Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers
Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers (Saint Vincent's, or SVCMC) was a healthcare system, anchored by its flagship hospital, St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan, locally referred to as "St. Vincent's". St. Vincent's was founded in 1849 and was a major teaching hospital in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It closed on April 30, 2010, under circumstances that triggered an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney. Demolition began at the end of 2012 and was completed in early 2013. Other hospital buildings are being converted into luxury condos and a new luxury building, Greenwich Lane, has replaced the St. Vincent's building.
|Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers|
|Sisters of Charity|
|Location||New York metropolitan area, New York City, New York, United States|
|Type||General and Teaching|
|Affiliated university||New York Medical College College of Mount Saint Vincent|
|Emergency department||Previously Level 1, now Closed|
|Beds||758 (Manhattan Site)|
|Lists||Hospitals in New York|
|Other links||Hospitals in Manhattan|
For more than 150 years, St. Vincent's Hospital served a wide range of New Yorkers, especially in its neighborhood of Greenwich Village, including poets, writers, artists, homeless people, the poor and the working class. It treated victims of the cholera epidemic of 1849 and of the Hudson River landing of US Airways Flight 1549. It was the designated provider for New York and New Jersey members of the U.S. Department of Defense Health Plan. Over time it expanded to become a major medical and research center. It maintained its connection to the Roman Catholic tradition, and was sponsored by the Bishop of Brooklyn and the President of the Sisters of Charity of New York.
St. Vincent's was the third oldest hospital in New York City after The New York Hospital and Bellevue Hospital. It was founded as a medical facility in 1849 and named for St. Vincent de Paul, a seventeenth-century French priest, whose religious congregation of the Daughters of Charity inspired the founding in Maryland in 1809 of the Sisters of Charity by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, a native New Yorker and Roman Catholic convert. St. Vincent de Paul is the patron saint of all charitable societies.
Drawing on its Catholic heritage, SVCMC's emphasis was on patient-focused healthcare, with a special mission to provide care for the poor and disenfranchised.
"Respect: The basic dignity of the human person is the guiding principal in all our interactions, policies and procedures.
Integrity: Integrity is the consistency between the Catholic identity we profess and the ways in which we act it is that quality of truthfulness, which fosters trust.
Compassion: Compassion is the way we share deep concern, love and care toward each person.
Excellence: Excellence is our way of demonstrating that we can always be more, always be better."
In 1817, four Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg, Maryland arrived at the request of Bishop John Connolly to establish an orphanage. As the congregation grew, the sisters opened more orphanages and began to staff parochial schools. In 1846, the Sisters in New York incorporated as a separate entity from the Sisters of Charity based in Maryland. They then set up a charity hospital to meet the demands of the poor and disadvantaged. It began as a thirty-bed hospital in a small brick house on East 13th Street. St. Vincent's served the poor as one of the few charity hospitals in New York City. The hospital opened on November 1, 1849, during a cholera epidemic, under the direction of Sister M. Angela Hughes, sister of Bishop John Hughes. With almost every room occupied by patients, the sisters ate, slept, and rested in a single room, or had their beds at the ends of the halls. A typhoid epidemic in 1852, filled the hospital to capacity. After outgrowing those quarters in 1856, the sisters moved to a former orphanage at the then undeveloped corner of West 11th Street and Seventh Avenue. In 1859, a fair was held at the New York Crystal Palace to raise funds to renovate the former orphanage and erect two additional wings.
The Sisters admitted patients regardless of religion or ability to pay. The doctors from Bellevue also worked there. St. Vincent's also operated a soup kitchen. According to an 1892 New York Times article, St. Vincent's was distinguished from other hospitals in the city by its feeding of "a large number of tramps and other destitute persons". The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay got her middle name from the hospital, where her uncle's life was saved in 1892 after he was accidentally locked in the hold of a ship for several days without food or water.
The school received its certification from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York in 1905, one of the first such schools to be so recognized. In 1911, St. Vincent's Ambulance, manned by hospital interns, responded to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, where the attendants watched helplessly as those trapped in the fire jumped to their deaths onto the street below. In 1912, St. Vincent's received and treated victims after the sinking of the RMS Titanic, while mourning the loss of attending physician Francis Norman O'Loughlin, who died in the disaster. A plaque honoring his memory stood in the hospital's main entrance as a reminder of his dedication and sacrifice.
In 1968, under William Grace, Director of Medicine at St. Vincent's, and his associate John A. Chadbourn, the hospital established the nation's first Mobile Coronary Care Unit (MCCU) following an example in Ireland. It was configured on a white over red 1968 Chevrolet Step-Van and utilized a portable battery-powered defibrillator/monitor; a battery-powered electrocardiograph, I.V. kit, resuscitation/oxygen kit, and a drug kit. The success of the St. Vincent's MCCU project inspired the development of the "HeartMobile" in Columbus, Ohio, and similar programs in Marietta, Georgia, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Los Angeles in 1970.
In 1975, when the Puerto Rican extremist nationalist group FALN bombed Fraunces Tavern in the Wall Street area, St. Vincent's paramedics and responders from multiple other EMS agencies transported patients to St. Vincent's Hospital for trauma care.
In the 1980s, as the gay population of Greenwich Village and New York began succumbing to the AIDS virus, St. Vincent's established the first AIDS ward on the East Coast and second only to one in San Francisco, and soon became "Ground Zero" for the AIDS-afflicted in NYC. The hospital "became synonymous" with care for AIDS patients in the 1980s, particularly poor gay men and drug users. It became one of the best hospitals in the state for AIDS care with a large research facility and dozens of doctors and nurses working on it.
ACT UP protested the hospital one night in the 1980s due to its Catholic nature. They took over the emergency room and covered crucifixes with condoms in an effort to both raise awareness and to offend Catholics. Instead of pressing charges, the sisters who ran the hospital decided to meet with the protesters to better understand their concerns.
The SVCMC network was formed in 2000, when St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan, formerly the St. Vincent Hospital and Medical Center of New York, merged with the Catholic Medical Centers of Brooklyn and Queens and Sisters of Charity Healthcare on Staten Island, which included St. Vincent's Hospital (Staten Island), Mary Immaculate Hospital in Queens, St. John's Queens Hospital, Saint Joseph's Hospital in Queens, St. Mary's Hospital of Brooklyn, and Bayley Seton Hospital in Staten Island. The mergers were intended to reduce costs by improved efficiency and elimination reductant administration, however, it also brought increased debt with the member hospitals.
St. Vincent's was the primary admitting hospital for those injured in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Pictures of the missing collected in such large numbers that the hospital dedicated an entire outside wall to protect them. The Wall of Hope and Remembrance was maintained for years.
Many hospitals closed soon afterward. In 2003 St. Clare's Hospital was affiliated, and renamed St. Vincent's Hospital (Midtown), but it closed on August 1, 2007. St. Mary's Hospital of Brooklyn closed on September 23, 2005; Mary Immaculate and St. John's closed on March 1, 2009, after being sold to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in 2006.
In 2005, under financial pressure from its charity involvements and rising costs, the SVCMC system filed for bankruptcy. The system launched an aggressive reorganization effort, selling or transferring its money-losing facilities and focusing development on its main hospital, which allowed it to emerge from bankruptcy in the summer of 2007. In the name of modernizing and restructuring, it also announced plans to build a new Manhattan hospital across the street, with a planned opening set for 2011. Part of this redevelopment was to include construction of a billion-dollar residential condominium by the Rudin real estate family. The plan was a source of contention with several neighborhood groups, such as the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the Municipal Art Society. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the residential components of the plan in July 2009, but by then residential development financing was no longer available because of the global financial crisis.
The New York State Department of Health said there is no need for an acute care hospital in Greenwich Village.
St. Vincent's announced on January 27, 2010, that its financial situation had soured further and desperate measures would be required to keep the hospital open. Senators, city council members and congressional representatives all became involved in attempting to save the hospital. A Greater New York Hospital Association spokesman pointed to health budget cuts in Albany. The hospital entered discussions with Continuum Health Partners (the parent corporation of Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary) and with Mount Sinai Hospital to consider taking ownership of the hospital, but both ultimately declined.
On April 6, 2010, the board of directors voted to close inpatient care services at St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Center, and to sell its outpatient services to other systems. The emergency room stopped accepting ambulances on April 9, 2010, and delivered its last baby on April 15, 2010. On April 19, 2010, more than 1,000 staff, representing approximately one-third of the hospital workforce, received notice of lay-off. On April 14, 2010, St. Vincent's Hospital Manhattan filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The petition, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, showed liabilities of more than $1 billion.
On April 30, 2010, the emergency room at St. Vincent's closed, officially shuttering the hospital after 161 years. Hospital administrators said that the vote to close came after a six-month-long effort to save the financially troubled institution, but August 21, 2011, prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office were reported to have launched an investigation to determine whether administrators intentionally ran St. Vincent's into the ground. The remaining parts of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, including its nursing homes, home health agency, St. Vincent's Hospital Westchester, and US Family Health Plan, were to continue to operate without interruption, but these entities were sold to other providers' systems.
In October 2011, the former main campus at 7-15 Seventh Avenue was sold to Rudin Management Company for $260 million. CBRE Group represented the seller, Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers. Eyal Ofer's Global Holdings assisted the buyer in the sale.
At the time of its closure, St. Vincent's occupied a large real-estate footprint in Greenwich Village; it consisted of several hospital buildings and a number of outpatient facilities, had more than 1,000 affiliated physicians, including 70 full-time and 300 voluntary attending physicians, and trained more than 300 residents and fellows annually. As a Catholic hospital, St. Vincent's was officially sponsored by the Sisters of Charity and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. St. Vincent's was the last Catholic general hospital in New York City. The St. Vincent de Paul stained glass window from the hospital was donated to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, in honor of its legacy of charity. It is on display in the main lobby of the medical center.
The building was completely demolished by early 2013. New York City has announced a deal that preserves a historic building and creates a new school on the site. Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that the plan also calls for a reduction in the number of new apartments, funds for affordable housing and arts education in local schools.
SVCMC served as one of two academic medical centers of New York Medical College. It offered a well-respected residency and fellowship program, and also served as a clerkship facility for students of medicine, nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy:
- Anesthesiology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Family Practice, Combined Internal Medicine & Pediatrics, Primary Care, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Nuclear Medicine, OB/GYN, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, Pathology, PM&R, Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry, Radiology, General Surgery, Transitional.
- Cardiology, Critical Care, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Interventional Endoscopy, Geriatrics, Hematology/Oncology, Infectious Disease, Pulmonary.
- Allied Health Programs
- CPR, Advanced Life Support, EMT, Paramedics, Nuclear Medicine Technology.
St. Vincent's Hospital, ManhattanEdit
- Level I Trauma Center and Critical Care Center
- Comprehensive Cardiovascular Center
- Level III Neonatal ICU
- The Pancreas & Biliary Center
- Comprehensive Cancer Center (now Beth Israel Comprehensive Cancer Center West Side Campus)
- Comprehensive HIV Center
- Full service emergency department
- Inpatient and outpatient psychiatric and addiction services
- St. Vincent's Hospital (Westchester), a 138-bed behavioral health facility, Harrison, NY (now part of St. Joseph's Medical Center, Yonkers), including:
- Behavior Health Residential Services, a 500-bed community housing and case management program based at Bayley Seton Staten Island, with units in the five boroughs and Westchester
- Four skilled nursing facilities including:
- Pax Christi Hospice, Staten Island
- The Edward and Theresa O’Toole Medical Services Building, now Lenox Health Greenwich Village
- SVCMC Home Health Agency, a comprehensive home care agency serving all five boroughs of New York City
- Kennedy Medical Offices, a 24/7 urgent care and multi-speciality center located at JFK International Airport. The center was over 23,000 square feet and offered primary care, urgent care, occupational health services, radiology, orthopedics, optometry, psychology, physical & occupational therapy, pain management and other services. Kennedy Medical also provided 24/7 paramedic New York State-certified first responder services to the Port Authority to supplement the PA Police EMS division. Kennedy Medical Offices treated dignitaries, politicians, Hollywood stars, and VIP's from around the world (including security details for the President of the US and the Pope as well as heads of many other nations).
- Several outpatient medical and substance abuse treatment centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester and the Bronx.
St. Vincent's HIV CenterEdit
St. Vincent's was the epicenter of New York City's AIDS epidemic. It housed the first and largest AIDS ward on the east coast and is often referred to as the "ground zero" of the AIDS epidemic.
As one of the first institutions to address and treat HIV and AIDS in the 1980s, St. Vincent's HIV Center was one of the oldest, most experienced and most renowned HIV treatment programs in the US. It provided coordinated outpatient and inpatient primary care and case management services to HIV-positive adults, pregnant women, and children, and also provided HIV prevention services, AIDS education programs, HIV clinical research, and support groups. In addition, SVCMC developed the unique Airbridge Project, which coordinates care for HIV-positive patients who make frequent trips to Puerto Rico. Father Mychal Judge ministered to Catholics dying of AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. Tony Kushner features the hospital in his play Angels in America.
Chinese Outreach ProgramEdit
Due to its proximity to Chinatown, Manhattan, two miles away, SVCMC had close ties to the Chinese community throughout its history. In an effort to reach this underserved population, the hospital opened an independent Chinese-speaking inpatient unit, which employed physicians and nurses who spoke Cantonese and Mandarin. They also opened an outpatient facility in Chinatown, provided a free shuttle service from Chinatown to the hospital, and offered Chinese-focused healthcare services such as Acupuncture and Chinese traditional meals.
Cystic Fibrosis ProgramEdit
One of the most comprehensive and renowned CF programs in the city, the Saint Vincent's Cystic Fibrosis therapy program offered care for patients with cystic fibrosis and attracted patients from around the region.
Perinatal Hospice CenterEdit
The Perinatal Hospice was founded in 2007 to meet the needs of parents who discover early in pregnancy that their baby is nonviable outside the womb, and yet chose to carry their baby to term.
John J. Conley Department of EthicsEdit
Closely linked to the Bioethics Institute at New York Medical College, The Conley Ethics Department was a leader in the study of clinical medical ethics and spirituality in healthcare. Chaired by Dr. Daniel Sulmasy, the department strove to integrate the biopsychosocial model of healthcare within the SVCMC system.
Elizabeth Ann Seton ChapelEdit
Because the hospital was founded and manned through much of its history by nuns, its hospital chapel was a primary focus of the hospital architecture, and was symbolically nested at the very center of the hospital. The chapel, named for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, offered daily Mass and refuge for patients and hospital staff.
Hospital Pet Care ProgramEdit
Responding to the unique needs of an urban population, SVCMC instituted a program to help patients provide for the pets during their stay in the hospital. Animals were either walked and fed in patient's home, or were relocated to care facilities or short-term foster homes.
Comprehensive Cancer CenterEdit
The Comprehensive Cancer Center provided prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery of a variety of malignancies, with a focus on preventing inpatient stays through careful outpatient monitoring. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, even stem cell transplants were provided as day procedures, along with 24-hour emergency care.
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- On the hospital's treatment of Titanic survivors, see Cimino, Eric (Fall 2019). "Sisters of Charity and the Titanic Disaster". New York Archives. 19 (2): 28–32. and Cimino, Eric (Summer 2019). "Walking Titanic's Charity Trail in New York City: Part Two". Voyage: Journal of the Titanic International Society. 108: 165–166.
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You can't have this conversation without pointing out that Albany has cut hospital funding seven times in the last two years, and an eighth cut is looming.
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- "SVCMC official website". Archived from the original on January 30, 2010.
- "Rudin closes on $260M purchase of St. Vincent's main campus". The Real Deal. October 3, 2011.
- "City Council green-lights Rudin's development at former St. Vincent's site". The Real Deal. March 29, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
- "SVCMC official website". Archived from the original on December 16, 2008.
- Hughes, C. J. (October 25, 2013). "Where St. Vincent's Once Stood". The New York Times. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
- Boynton, Andrew (May 16, 2013). "Remembering St. Vincent's". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
- Jeremiah Moss (December 3, 2012). "St. Vincent's Demolition". Jeremiah's Vanishing New York. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
- "NYC reaches deal for St. Vincent's Hospital site". WABC-TV News. March 15, 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
- "Residency and Fellowship Programs". Archived from the original on January 23, 2009.
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- "Federation Credentials Verification Service (FCVS)| Closed Residency Programs". FSMB. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
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- "Saint Vincent's Medical Center Staff".[dead link]
- "Pastoral Care at the Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel". Archived from the original on March 1, 2009.
- "Patient Pet Care Program". Archived from the original on March 1, 2009.
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