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Regarding the Proposed Closing of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital

As some of our readers may already know, Mount Sinai’s Beth Israel campus is expected to close in the coming months. 


Many people are upset over the closure, and rightfully so. Especially with the closure of an emergency department, and the result of longer times it will take for people to get properly cared for at another hospital, it is a decision that will affect people in lower Manhattan deeply. The loss of other forms of care because of the closing should not be taken lightly, either.


But at the same time, policymakers must closely look at the reasons for this proposed closure so that we can figure out how to prevent other closures like this in the future, while at the same time pushing to save Beth Israel. Because if we don’t do that, we’re going to see repeats of Mount Sinai Beth Israel elsewhere.


In particular, it’s worth focusing on one of the big reasons cited by Mount Sinai: their Beth Israel campus is losing money hand over fist. At the time the closure was first announced back in September, Beth Israel was projected to lose $150 million in 2023 alone.(1) The hospital is reportedly bleeding money.


Beth Israel may be a particularly extreme example of a hospital losing money—so much so that it should raise serious questions about the management of that hospital to begin with—but it is far from the only example. In fact, most hospitals in the United States lost money in 2022, and that trend was continuing into 2023.(2) Even pre-pandemic, in 2019, about a third of hospitals were losing money, which is an alarmingly high amount.(3)


This is a trend that puts many other hospitals in danger, including hospitals in rural areas where the closure of hospitals means that a community has no hospital. And without figuring out how to adequately address the money issue, whatever the policy remedy may be, we are likely to see more hospital closures in rural and urban areas alike. We are likely then to see more Mount Sinai Beth Israel situations, and more situations affecting rural areas too. 


This is an issue that our policymakers need to get a grasp of urgently, for the sake of saving other hospitals. It remains to be seen whether Mount Sinai Beth Israel will be saved in the end (we hope it will), but even if it isn’t, we can prevent future hospital closures if we get our policy acts together when it comes to figuring out how the money issue can be resolved. 


Truthfully, the priority of hospital care should be caring for people’s health, rather than caring for companies’ profits. But the fact is that many hospitals in the United States are for-profit, so unless and until that changes, our policymakers need to find a way to make this work from a money standpoint.


 


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