Revitalization Plan Announced for a 'New' Mount Vernon Hospital

Plan Includes Extensive Remodeling and New Services Designed to Assure Long-Term Stability of Hospital

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y., Nov. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- A plan designed to assure the long-term future and stability of Mount Vernon Hospital was announced today.  The revitalization plan includes substantial reconstruction of the hospital that first opened its doors on North 7th Street in 1891 and was expanded in stages over the ensuing decades.

The plan will bring a series of modernizations and new facilities that will position the venerable hospital to meet 21st century community and area needs. Among the major steps that are planned are construction of a new emergency department and an enhanced 35-bed medical/surgical unit and conversion of portions of the building to create a senior care facility with 147 assisted living beds.

The 358,500-square-foot facility is one of the most significant structures in the city and a major fixture in its downtown occupying half a city block between North 7th and North 8th streets. Mount Vernon Hospital has long been a major employer and a significant element in the fabric of the community. The revitalization plan recognizes this and seeks to maintain the role of the hospital by retaining most of the current jobs and establishing new functions that hold the potential for future growth at the site. It is estimated that the revitalization plan will contribute $100 million annually to the local economy.

The hospital has been struggling financially for more than 25 years. Against this backdrop, Sound Shore Health System, of which Mount Vernon is a member, conducted an in-depth analysis of the community's health needs and Mount Vernon's current physical conditions, its medical services and its overall operations to determine how best to make much-needed restructuring to assure its financial viability going forward. The plan has the support of elected officials, the New York State Health Department, the hospital's medical staff, the hospital's board of trustees and community leaders and is based on an assessment of potential new services as well as a study of market demands both today and in the foreseeable future.

"Under this plan Mount Vernon Hospital will remain as a vital community resource and will provide new and expanded services," said John Spicer, President and CEO of Sound Shore Health System. "A great deal of time and thought has gone into the evaluation of how best to assure that Mount Vernon Hospital's long-term viability and we believe the approaches we are now launching will accomplish that goal."

Spicer said that implementing the plan will involve more than $30 million in construction and over $23 million in grant funding through the New York State Department of Health under its HEAL NY program. The budget includes $5.9 million to pay down bank debt, $3.5 million to rebuild the Emergency Department as well as funding for new heating and air conditioning systems and numerous repairs to the aging facility. The HEAL NY program is targeted to assist hospitals in urban areas that are transitioning into new modes of healthcare delivery. HEAL funding comes from both the federal and state governments.

Mount Vernon Hospital is a series of inter-connected buildings constructed over 80 years beginning in 1891. Six additions were constructed between 1912 and 1974. Under the revitalization plan, there will be renovation of most of the facility with limited demolition and new construction. The hospital's nursing school, which is in a separate building, will continue in its current facility.

Other services that will continue to be provided by the hospital going forward include a 20-bed psychiatric unit and a special unit that provides medical services to the New York State and Westchester County Departments of Corrections that can handle up to 20 patients.

The hospital, which has seen the occupancy of its in-patient medical/surgical beds drop from 40 percent to 28 percent between 2005 and 2009, has concurrently seen the demand for its specialized services steadily rise. Its primary care clinics serve pediatrics, OB/GYN, general medicine and surgery. Specialty clinics include HIV/AIDS, podiatry, ophthalmology, and GI and pain management. Each of these areas is experiencing strong patient demand and therefore will be maintained and expanded under the plan.  

Once the plan is fully implemented a net loss of 43 jobs is anticipated.  

"This plan is designed to preserve as many jobs as possible," Spicer said. "Our approach is designed to see that the Mount Vernon community continues to have both emergency and in-patient services along with numerous other important medically-related services. The addition of the senior care component is an extremely important step in positioning the hospital to meet identified needs going forward. We have already had positive conversations with senior care providers who are interested in being part of Mount Vernon Hospital and we are confident that these new uses will be an integral part of the hospital's future," Spicer said.

He added: "As is widely known, hospitals today are faced with daunting financial challenges. We have already seen two community hospitals close in Westchester and just this spring St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan closed its doors. No one wants to see that happen in Mount Vernon and this revitalization plan is aimed at assuring that it does not."

Spicer said that obtaining the HEAL funding from the state is critical to the hospital's ability to complete the plan. In the coming weeks Spicer said that the hospital will conduct an extensive community informational outreach program to give residents a clear understanding of the plans for the future Mount Vernon hospital.

SOURCE Mount Vernon Hospital