Hospital pulls back from the brink of closing

A suburban New York hospital that was on the brink of closing for more than a year has gotten a reprieve. A revitalization plan, which officials announced yesterday, will substantially rebuild the 196-bed Mount Vernon Hospital, which first opened in 1891, according to the Associated Press.

"I want to make one thing perfectly clear...Mount Vernon Hospital is not closing," John Spicer, president and CEO of Sound Shore Health System, the facility's umbrella company, told LoHud.com.

To update the facility, Mount Vernon will build a new emergency department and an enhanced 35-bed medical/surgical unit that includes a new diabetes and wound-care center. It also will convert parts of the building to create a $32 million senior assisted living facility with 147 beds.

The plan will involve more than $30 million in construction and grants of over $23 million from the state Department of Health's HEAL NY program for urban medical centers. The budget covers $5.9 million to pay down bank debt and $3.5 million to rebuild the ED.

The hospital has struggled financially for 25 years, according to a press release. More recently, between 2005 and 2009, the hospital saw occupancy of its inpatient med/surg beds drop from 40 to 28 percent. One strong area has been specialized care; because Mount Vernon's specialty clinics--including HIV/AIDS, podiatry and GI--have seen growing patient demand, they will be expanded.

As a result of the restructuring, about 100 layoffs are expected, including 20 doctors, 27 nurses, 45 support staff and 10 managers.

Mount Vernon officials estimate that the revitalization will pump $100 million to the local economy each year.

To learn more:
- here's Mount Vernon Hospital's press release
- read the Associated Press article
- here's the LoHud.com article

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