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Saturday, July 24, 2010

St. Vincent's won't become luxury condos by Louis Flores

Residents of the West Village, Chelsea, and other neighborhood in the Lower West Side of Manhattan, showed up at a meeting of Community Board 2 last Thursday night.  It was a historic evening in Village history : CB2 passed a resolution to lock the land use and zoning of St. Vincent's Hospital.

Numerous residents signed up to make public statements to the Board Members of CB2.  Many residents had urged CB2 to put a lock on the zoning on the site of the former St. Vincent's Hospital.  Locking the zoning, or the ''land use',' of the site would prevent the site from being used for other purposes, such as luxury condominiums.  Unless a Board Member asked the speaker a question, each speaker was limited to two minutes of speaking time.

Eileen Dunn, RN, who formerly worked at St. Vincent's, asked CB2 and its chair, Jo Hamilton, to locate critical data issued by the Berger Commission.  The Berger Commission was a statewide panel, whose members were charged with recommending the ''rightsizing'' of hospitals and nursing homes in New York state.

Nurse Dunn said at the meeting that CB2 Board Member Brad Hoylman had distributed information about the Berger Commission, which Nurse Dunn said was incorrect.  Meanwhile, critical Berger Commission data that was applicable to St. Vincent's main hospital site in the West Village can no longer be found on the Internet.

When it came time for Susan Howard to speak, she questioned why CB2 would advocate for a ''needs assessment.''  Ms. Howard said it would be a waste of taxpayer money to conduct an expensive and lengthy study to determine whether a hospital was needed in the Lower West Side. There is no hospital now ; therefore, it is true that a hospital is needed.

Another concerned citizen, Jim Fouratt, took a break outside during the meeting.  He said that Beth Israel Hospital is too far away from his apartment if, God forbid, he ever had a heart attack.  Mr. Fouratt compared an urgent care center with the pharmacy department at Duane Reade.  Both are places you can go, if all you need is a band-aid, but you won't find treatment for broken limbs or strokes at either.

He added that New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has let her community down.

Following the sudden and shocking closure of St. Vincent's Hospital, many politicians have proposed replacing St. Vincent's Hospital with an urgent care center.  If you have a serious condition, like a stroke, heart attack, severe bleeding, head injury, or other major trauma, don't take a chance.  An Emergency Room that is attached to a full-service hospital is where you should go.  Otherwise, the pharmacy counter at your nearest Duane Reade might better meet your needs if you suffer from minor burns or injuries, sprains and strains, or coughs, colds, and sore throats. 


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