By Jennifer R Jones | Posted on April 17, 2010 10:30 AM
St. Vincent’s, the economically troubled hospital forced to shut down, sent home the last baby born there on Friday. Four health-care organizations have already submitted proposals to turn the facility into an urgent-care center. The new center would not admit patients, but would handle emergencies that were not life threatening. According to Dr. Richard Daines, the state health-care commissioner, the new facility would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and doctors would see patents without an appointment. Doctors would be able to perform basic tests, like x-rays, and also to perform minor medical procedures, from removing cysts to making incisions. The facility would also provide transportation to other facilities for patients who had life-threatening conditions. One of the hospitals that submitted a proposal was Beth Israel Medical Center, which already has a facility in the west 20s that provides some urgent-care services. The decision on whether to develop a new urgent-care center could come in the next few weeks. St. Vincent’s has been in economic trouble for a number of years now, and various proposals have surfaced with ways to either save it or convert it. Neighborhood rallies were held with increasing frequency. The hospital is closing because of a $700 million debt. In 2008, the hospital came close to being sold and moving across the street; the property would have been developed into a luxury residential building. The facility may still be turned into luxury apartment buildings. Closing St. Vincent's means that other hospitals will have to bear the burden of an increased number of patients. Ambulances have already stopped bringing patients there—and expectant mothers are having to scramble for new hospitals in which to have their babies.