LOWER MANHATTAN — The CEO of the financially-strapped New York Downtown Hospital has resigned.
On the eve of a proposed takeover by New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Jeffrey Menkes, chief executive of the struggling hospital since 2007, announced his resignation in a letter sent to hospital staff Monday.
He said new leadership plucked from within NY-Presbyterian will be best suited to take the helm as the merger moves ahead.
"I have thought long and hard about the future and concluded that the time is right for new leadership at our hospital,” he wrote.
“The new leadership needs to be focused on the final alignments needed to get us ready for merger with New York Presbyterian… That leadership needs to come from within New York Presbyterian to guarantee the best transition.”
NY-Presbyterian, one of the city's largest private hospital groups, filed a "certificate of need" with the state Health Department in January, arguing that a takeover was necessary to save the vital but floundering 180-bed Downtown Hospital.
Menkes, 63, said he was confident and happy that his hospital would soon merge with NY-Presbyterian, writing "…New York Downtown Hospital is facing a bright and certain future as the potential sixth campus" of NY-Presbyterian.
Since the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital in 2010 as a result of similar debt issues, Downtown Hospital, located at 180 Williams Street, is the only community hospital below 14th Street.
"We have all worked hard to obtain the recognition that there must be a hospital provider in Lower Manhattan," he wrote.
"The way NYDH and NYPH worked together during Hurricane Sandy further cemented the relationship and demonstrated to all of the constituencies in lower Manhattan that the relationship with New York Presbyterian was needed to keep the mission of our hospital alive."
The two hospitals have been loosely affiliated since 2005.
Menkes, who's had a long career in hospital administration, was once the city's youngest hospital chief executive when, as a 32-year-old, he led the Health and Hospitals Corp's Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, according to 2007 Crain's New York profile.
And despite Downtown's money troubles, Menkes made $780,000 in 2010, according to media reports.
Menkes will officially step down on March 1, according to his letter.
"I leave the Hospital in good hands," he wrote. "And I wish all of you the best in your efforts to serve all the members of the downtown community with quality medical care."
NY-Presbyterian did not immediately return request for comment.