The closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital

If you can’t pay the bills, you have to close the doors.

Here is something for your brick from brick file.

There is an article in Jesuit run America Magazine on the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, the last Catholic general hospital in Manhattan.  It was run by the Sisters of Charity.

People will now have to go in some cases a couple miles – in Manhattan traffic – to other hospitals.

I will be in NYC pretty soon, staying just a few blocks from the wreckage.  Please say a prayer that I don’t fall ill or get injured.

St. Vincent’s emergency department treated 60,000 people a year.

St. Vincent’s had merged with some other hospitals, ostensibly to help bring down costs.  What happened is that St. Vincent’s got saddled with the increasing expenses.

Though St. Vincent’s situation is very complicated, this closure does point to hard facts:

  • Catholic institutions have to pay bills
  • Catholics often think that what they receive from Catholic institutions should be free, at least to them
  • Catholic parishes take up collections for a reason
  • Catholic institutions are often poorly run because sometimes those in charge don’t have proper skills
  • Catholics built amazing institutions in hard times because they had priorities
  • Catholic institutions often depended on the labor of religious for the love of God, though some say "slave labor"
  • Catholic demographics are shifting: raw numbers may be up, but the percentage of committed practicing Catholics is down
  • Catholic institutions sometimes close and the people who depend on them suffer
  • Catholics parishes and hospitals and even dioceses were not founded by Jesus and He didn’t promise they would survive.
  • Catholic institutions have to pay bills

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. hawkeye says:

    That is very sad to hear. I remember that hospital when I lived in NYC. I believe it was also a “foundling” hospital as well. There is , however, a Catholic hospital on the upper east side. Used to Flower 5th Ave Hosp on 106th St. and 5th Ave. Now it is named for Cardinal o’Connor. I’m not sure who runs it. It is quite a large complex now but inconvenient to those on the lower east or west side. I will bet more Catholic hospitals will close with the new health care bill. I guess all we can do is pray. You will be in my prayers as you head to NYC.

  2. DisturbedMary says:

    I don’t know how any Catholic hospital can remain open for very long in the face of what is coming with Obamacare (abortion, euthenasia, rationing…) Look at what’s happening in Massachusets with tax exempt status challenges.

  3. basilorat says:

    I am in the hospital industry. It very well could be, that St. Vincent’s was acquired by other hospitals looking to dump their bad debt on poor St. Vincent’s, forcing it to close, and voila, all the bad debts of those hospitals, along with St. Vincent’s now vanishes! Not saying this is what happens, but I’ve seen it happen in Chicago.

  4. My friend worked at St. Vincent’s and gave birth there. I am so very very sorry to hear this.

  5. Mitchell NY says:

    As a resident of Queens, NY this is very dismal news…We just lost the last two Catholic Hospitals in Queens as well. St John’s, a fine hospital, and Mary Immaculate…Now to go to a Catholic hospital I must go to LI or Brooklyn where I believe one is left. St. J and MI went the same way. Once “merged” or whatever to cut cost they became unprofitable and mismanaged and were forced to close their doors..I pass by St. John’s most days and the grafitti on the boards covering the doors is ever so depressing. People are upset, angry with the way Catholic Hospitals have been run in recent years, and only to lose them all one by one.

  6. Father: All of your bullet points could be applied to a parish.

  7. wanda says:

    Cathy, Yep.

  8. Girgadis says:

    Sadly, you will see this happening more and more and not just to Catholic hospitals. Part of the challenge is the way hospitals are reimbursed as well as the burden they have to prove patients did not acquire infections and other complications while in their care. For instance, Medicare will not pay for hospital-acquired infections, so hospitals have to jump through hoops before admitting patients to rule out the possibiity they were infected before admission. Also, with CMS and HCAHPS, hospitals are ranked according to patient satisfaction and other factors that will soon affect reimbursement as well. The average patient will have the ability to navigate these rankings to find out where their hospital and doctor falls in terms of infections, malpractice and other factors that could influence the decision of where to seek care. Hospitals that fall below a certain percentile stand to lose the most and will eventually fail. St. Vincent’s and the other recently-closed hospitals are the tip of the iceberg.

  9. Patikins says:

    A bright note in Manhattan:

    The clinic was founded in cooperation with St. Vincent Hospital. The two physicians who operate the clinic were recently on Fr. Groeschel’s program on EWTN.

  10. People who remember the old TV series Beauty and the Beast will remember that its hero, Vincent, got his name because he was left at the door of St. Vincent’s.

    It is so much easier to destroy charitable organizations than to create them. Sigh.

  11. irishgirl says:

    Suburbanbanshee-yes, I remember Beauty and the Beast. I loved that show! I didn’t know how Vincent got his name…very interesting…

    And ditto to your last sentence, too…I wonder what the spirits of the Sisters of Charity who founded the hospital are thinking as they look down from heaven.

  12. ikseret says:

    For a photo of the Hospital’s Franciscan chaplain in blue vestments giving Holy Communion to a woman who is wearing a Roman collar, check here:

    And here’s how the reporter described the Mass (which was the final one at the hospital:
    “They gathered first for a noon Mass — held in the chapel but broadcast to overflow crowds — where a longtime hospital housekeeper sang and a psychiatric nurse danced, like a Jules Feiffer drawing come to life, in a spectral white dress and ballet slippers.”

  13. wanda says:

    I loooved the Beauty and the Beast show. I was so sad went it went off the air. I still have a little trinket from the show, a door knob hanging that quotes Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, in part..

    ‘For thy sweet love rememb’red such wealth brings that then I scorn to change my state with kings.’

    It has a picture of Vincent on it. Fun memory.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    All good points, Father. And all apply to the entire church in the US.

    They portray sort of a vicious circle:
    Poorly run institutions don’t inspire commitment & generosity.
    Poor funding results in poor administration of institutions, including inferior employee pools.

    Institution = parish, school, diocese, religious orders, hospitals, even the USCCB

    Poorly run = incompetent, uneducated, short-sighted, unfaithful to the mission of the Church, sub-par services, etc.

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    Of course, in order to break the cycle, the Church has to look for QUALIFIED people willing to accept the working conditions and low pay, and they are tough to come by, especially when they have to put up with dissidence and other nonsense on a daily basis.

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