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Lenox Health Charged $1,000 to Look at a Bee Sting, Locals Complain

 Locals are concerned the Lenox Health facility that replaced St. Vincent's is not serving the community's needs.
Locals are concerned the Lenox Health facility that replaced St. Vincent's is not serving the community's needs.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

WEST VILLAGE — The medical facility that now stands where St. Vincent's Hospital used to be is charging exorbitant rates for care, including $1,000 for a doctor to look at a bee sting, locals complain.

Lenox Health Greenwich Village, which recently changed its name from Lenox Hill HealthPlex due to a lawsuit, is under scrutiny from Community Board 2 for charging more than many think seems reasonable for urgent care treatment.

"It's become an issue. Lenox Hill HealthPlex is charging enormous amounts of money for some simple little procedures," said Community Board 2 Social Services committee chair Sasha Greene at a recent meeting of the board's committee chairs.

The board now plans to do research on "the cost of ERs, the cost of these standalone ERs, how much it costs for the regular ER," to compare the rates to those charged by Lenox Health, Greene said.

"I've personally heard of really high charges," added CB2 chair Tobi Bergman, who said he and his wife recently went into the facility to check a bee sting on his wife's foot that was bothering her.

She wasn't planning on going to the doctor about it, but when they walked past Lenox Health, she thought, "What the heck, I'll go in," Bergman said, adding that a doctor spent a few minutes with her.

The bill was $1,000.

"She would never have known that someone was going to get billed $1,000," Bergman said.

When he inquired about the high cost of just a few minutes with a doctor, "I got the answer, 'This is an expensive place to run. That's basically the minimum charge when somebody walks in the door," he said.

Another board member, Dan Miller, said he was charged $3,000 for a sprained ankle.

Board member Rich Caccopolo said he’s heard of similar overcharges “a lot."

Chennault Spence, chair of one of the landmarks committees, said he "had occassion to go there for a cut that required stitches."

"It was the [most] super luxury Rolls Royce visit to an emergency room ever," he said.

Greene said that while the high cost of care would likely be the same "if you walk into the ER at Beth Israel," the problem seems to arise in instances of non-emergency care, "where the urgent care centers would be charging less."

Now CB2 plans to hold a "forum" where people from Lenox Health Greenwich Village would be invited to come "to hear people's experiences, let the committee and the public ask questions and get data on how they operate."

The goals, Greene said, would be to gain a clearer understanding for the community on how to use the facility, and have the Lenox Health administrators "get a better understanding of how to better serve the community."

A Lenox Health Greenwich Village spokeswoman directed DNAinfo to a webpage titled "Emergency Room vs Urgent Care," but did not respond when asked if that information is posted anywhere at the entrance or in any of the rooms at Lenox Health.

When asked if their costs and charges are listed prominently anywhere, she said only, "Lenox Health Greenwich Village would charge what our other 21 Emergency Departments in the Northwell Health System would charge."

She noted that unlike an urgent care center, Lenox Health is open 24 hours and "accepts all patients regardless of insurance status or ability to pay."

Northwell Health, the parent company of Lenox Hill and Lenox Health, has its own urgent care center in Gramercy, and plans to open one in Greenwich Village in May at 41 East 8th St., she said.

She recommended seeking out those facilities for most "non-life-threatening conditions" as an "easy and affordable choice."