Mount Sinai Merger with Beth Israel, St. Luke's Creates New Hospital Giant

By Amy Zimmer on September 30, 2013 8:53pm 

 Mount Sinai officially announced Monday its merger with Continuum, but many still had questions.
Mount Sinai officially announced Monday its merger with Continuum, but many still had questions.
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MANHATTAN — It’s official: Mount Sinai Medical Center and Continuum Health Partners announced Monday the completion of their merger, creating New York City’s largest hospital network.

The deal brings together East Harlem’s Mount Sinai and its esteemed academic institution — the Icahn School of Medicine — with Continnum’s community-oriented hospitals. Those are, Gramercy’s Beth Israel Medical Center, Roosevelt Hospital in Hell’s Kitchen, St. Luke’s in Morningside Heights and the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary in the East Village.

“Indeed, if you live in Manhattan, there will almost always be a [Mount Sinai] Health System doctor within walking distance of your residence, as well as a substantial presence of our physicians and facilities in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island,” Kenneth Davis, President and CEO of the Mount Sinai Medical Center said in a statement.

The newly united network will be massive, employing roughly 6,600 physicians and more than 2,000 residents overseeing 3,571 beds and 138 operating rooms, officials said. Together, the network will see more than 2.6 million outpatients, admit more than 177,000 inpatients, have more than 500,000 ER visits and deliver roughly 18,000 babies a year.

Continuum had been in talks with another academic hospital powerhouse, NYU Langone Medical Center, last year when negotiations fell apart and Mount Sinai swiftly swooped in.

With a larger system, Mount Sinai officials said they would be able to test new models of care, such as aligning payment incentives to promote quality over quantity of services.

“With an increased number of primary care physicians, the Health System will help define and provide large-scale population management, so patients receive appropriate prevention, intervention, and treatment early on—before a disease progresses,” Davis said in a statement.

Unions representing workers in the affected hospitals and patient advocates, however, had many concerns.

They wanted to know whether services would be downsized — such as SUNY Downstate’s plans to close Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital — and whether health care costs would increase as they have seen in other mergers.

“Continuum has already cut care for Harlem patients — they used Hurricane Sandy as an excuse to eliminate pediatric and detox services,” Jill Furillo, RN, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, said in a statement. “We need a guarantee that they won't use this merger as an excuse to cut care again.”

Dr. Sepideh Sedgh, president of the Service Employees International Union’s committee of interns and residents, was also worried about potential reductions in services.

“Neither the doctors and nurses who work in these hospitals nor the patients who rely on them for care have any sense of how this will impact patient care in Manhattan,” she said in a statement.

Sinai officials did not immediately respond for comment about what specific changes or reductions would be made.

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