City hospitals grapple with finances as closures abound

October 18, 2010 11:00AM

Facing $1 billion in debt and the loss of an additional $10 million a month, St. Vincent’s Hospital in the West Village closed last spring, having treated more than 50,000 people per year and hundreds of thousands more in its clinics and outpatient facilities. Its collapse was the first sign of an ongoing financial emergency facing the city’s five dozen remaining hospitals, New York Magazine reported, referring to St. Vincent’s as “the Lehman Brothers of the local hospital industry: an institution whose dramatic disappearance, once unthinkable, raises dire questions about the viability of the entire system.” The financial quality of New York City’s hospitals has been deteriorating for years and other hospitals are following St. Vincent’s example. Weeks after St. Vincent’s closed in April, Lenox Hill, burdened by operating losses and debt, agreed to a takeover by North Shore”LIJ. A month later, North General in Harlem announced that it was shutting down. Since 2000, 17 hospitals have closed in the city. New York’s hospitals carry twice as much debt in relation to their net assets as hospitals around the country, a fact that constrains their ability to continue borrowing money. [NY Mag]