FDNY Begins Diverting Ambulances From St. Vincent's
As St. Vincent's Hospital prepares to close, some patients will be sent to other hospitals.

As of 10 a.m. today, the New York City Fire Department is only taking psychiatric patients to the Greenwich Village facility.

Fire officials say all other patients will be taken to different hospitals.

The hospital says it will continue to care for walk-in patients for now.

The hospital's board voted Tuesday to close inpatient services after a six month attempt to save the institution, which is estimated to be $700 million in debt.

The move ends the hospital's acute care, rehab and behavioral health services.

Outpatient services like cancer care and HIV and AIDS treatment will be saved.

There is still no official closing date for the 160-year-old facility.

In response to the impending closure of Saint Vincent's, many local hospitals are expanding their hours and services to accommodate its patients and staff.

Bellevue, a seven-minute ride away from St. Vincent's, says it has already seen an increase in patients. NYU Langone Medical Center just next door to Bellevue, has already made some changes.

"We've already seen a significant impact at Bellevue in their emergency department, so we're up about 13 percent compared to last year,” said Alan Aviles, president of the Health & Hospitals Corporation.

"Our emergency department, unfortunately, is small and overcrowded, but we do have a certificate of need on file with the Department of Health right now in order to expand it,” said NYU Langone Medical Center’s Dr. Andrew Brotman.

The New York Daily News reported Thursday that at least two health care companies, Mount Sinai Medical Center and Continuum Health Partners, are still in talks to take over the emergency department and community clinics.

A spokesperson from Continuum released a statement saying that its hospitals are prepared to take on the extra needs of the community by expanding the hours and services at its existing facilities.

Beth Israel and Roosevelt Hospital will also allow for immediate, temporary admitting privileges for St. Vincent's patients.

Additionally, Continuum has initiated a temporary hiring freeze and will work to place St. Vincent's workers in any job vacancies.

Both Mount Sinai and Continuum had bids to take over the entire hospital, but pulled out to avoid taking on the West Village institution’s $700 million in debt.

Local leaders and residents say they worry the hospital’s closure will leave a dangerous gap in medical care for the Greenwich Village area.

In response, Governor David Paterson said the state will begin seeking grant applications for the development of a new urgent care facility in the neighborhood.

"While I am disappointed that St. Vincent's will close its inpatient services, I am committed to ensuring that the health care needs of the community it serves continue to be met. This project will help maintain access to needed urgent care services in Greenwich Village," said the governor in a released statement. "I am confident that the other providers in the area will come forward with resourceful proposals to ensure that St. Vincent's patients continue to receive timely and high quality care."

Meanwhile, nurses and staffers from St. Vincent's held a rally Thursday to protest the hospital's closing.

They say they're not only concerned about losing their jobs, but also for their patients.

"This community has to know, when you have that difficulty breathing, when you have that chest pain, do not go to an urgent care center, it means your life, you need a full service hospital here in Manhattan, at St. Vinny's and nothing less will do," said St. Vincent's nurse Barbara Cane.

"I really would like to help St. Vincent's stay open and care for this community. I think if we get together strong enough we can stop this," said St. Vincent's nurse Rosemary Rogers.

"I'm here to support the hospital but I think it's a done deal and I think it's a criminal done deal," St. Vincent's nurse Dorothy O'Neill.

About 150 people turned out for the rally, including dozens of neighborhood residents.

Also affected by Tuesday's decision to close up shop are the hospital's 345 residents and interns.

They now have to find somewhere else to finish their training programs. Some are just two months away from finishing.

About 40 of them have already been uprooted once when Mary Immaculate Hospital and St. John's Queens Hospital closed last year.

The Committee of Interns and Residents has been working with all the residents and interns since the problems began at St. Vincent's.