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St. Vincent's Replacement Plan Angers Residents

By Ben Fractenberg | March 11, 2011 5:02am | Updated on March 11, 2011 5:20am

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CHELSEA — Thanks but no thanks.

Community members filled a Ninth Avenue Chelsea auditorium Thursday night to express their dissatisfaction with the plan for a new comprehensive care center at the old St. Vincent’s Hospital site.

"This is a sad day on the lower west side," said community activist and former St. Vincent’s nurse Eileen Dunn.

Dunn went on to say the deal announced Thursday for the care center to open in 2013 was done privately without the consent of the West Village community.

"Don’t listen to these politicians," said Dunn. "They are playing games behind closed doors with your lives."

While the proposed facility would not be a full-service hospital it would provide emergency and ambulatory care, according to Jeff Kraut, a representative with North Shore-LIJ, which is promising to put $100 million into the project.

"This is an emergency room, make no doubt about it," said Kraut in an attempt to assuage concerns the proposed center would not be able to treat patients who need immediate medical attention.

In addition to the emergency services the center would provide "fitness, rehabilitation, diagnostic tests, preventative programs, wellness and other services," according to a statement by North Shore-LIJ.

The facility, however, would not admit patients overnight and people suffering major trauma would be transferred to another hospital after being stabilized.

Those services are still not enough for some community members, who said they would accept nothing short of a hospital.

"We are reasonable people, but we are in a health crisis," said Yetta Kurland, a leader in the Coalition for a New Village Hospital. "So excuse our desperation when we say we don’t have two years for an urgent care center."

Kurland said she wants local representatives take a stronger leadership role in demanding a full-service facility.

North Shore-LIJ will wait for the results of a community needs assessment being carried out by the Hunter School of Public Health before accessing what, if any, additions will be made to the facility, Kraut said.

Other community leaders said they hopped the assessment could be a way to get both sides working together.

"It seems like someone is behind the smokescreen pulling levers," said Community Board 2 member Brad Hoylman. "We have to keep everyone moving toward our goal, which is a full-service hospital."