By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As of the present time, the SUNY Board of Trustees has decided to shut down Long Island College Hospital (LICH), which has been a fixture in Cobble Hill since the 19th century. The Daily News now reports that SUNY Downstate itself may be in serious financial trouble.
As for Interfaith in Bedford-Stuyvesant, it’s been in trouble since the 1970s, and may soon follow LICH into the netherworld of healthcare. Victory Memorial in Bay Ridge closed several years ago, although some of its functions still survive under the SUNY umbrella. And the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene just emerged from bankruptcy several years ago.
There are some prosperous, well-functioning hospitals in Brooklyn: New York Methodist, Lutheran Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center. But as good as these hospitals are, there are too few of them, and they are too far between.
Years ago, there were very many small hospitals in the five boroughs (Beth Israel-Kings Highway is a remnant of that era, although it is certainly more modern than the small hospitals of old). Looking at a list in Wikipedia of “New York Hospitals That Have Closed,” one sees a long list.
I remember some of these hospitals, like Fordham Hospital in the Bronx; Cabrini Medical Center in Lower Manhattan, which closed only six years ago; and Francis Delafield Hosptial in Washington Heights, now senior housing. My wife remembers others, such as Caledonian Hospital in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park. And let’s not forget St. Vincent’s in Greenwich Village. All of them may have been victims of rising healthcare costs, problems with reimbursement, mismanagement, bureaucracy or all of the above, depending on who you talk to.
Since hospital closures have been the trend for years, maybe we should just accept it and go with it! A look at some of the most successful hospitals in New York reveal that the great majority are on Manhattan’s East Side: Hospital for Special Surgery, Lenox Hill Hospital; Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital; Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Mount Sinai, NYU Langone Medical Center – the list goes on and on.
Here’s a proposal. Everyone knows that in the New York of yesteryear, entire commercial neighborhoods were dominated by one industry. In the West 30s in Manhattan, you had the Garment Center. In the West 20s, you had the Flower District and the Fur District.
So why not continue this trend, take the East Side of Manhattan, move all the hospitals there and call it the “Hospital District:” At least people would know where to go when they have serious medical problems!
And think of the commercial possibilities a Hospital District would bring. You could have hospital-themed restaurants and bars, like “Joe’s Recovery Room.” And let’s not forget souvenir shops selling items like little stuffed animals wearing T-shirts that say, “I Survived the New York Hospital District.”
We could also have colorfully painted “hospital trolleys” taking tourists from one hospital to another, with guides giving an amusing spiel. Some of the more photogenic doctors could be given their own daytime talk shows, interviewing celebrities. It would be an economic bonanza for the city!
And as for those people who get seriously ill in the other four boroughs, Uptown Manhattan or Downtown Manhattan – well, we’ll get back to you! You may just be out of luck!