Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Hospital: An Inside Job . . . But by Who?

Today's article in the OD - New hospital: Separating fact from confusion - is more revealing if you read between the lines.
Why hasn’t there been more public discussion and disclosure?
As a private, nonprofit organization, the health system does not need public approval for its decision to build a hospital or its decision where to put it...
This is the excuse for not involving the public in deciding to impose a significant change on Downtown.  It is also a mischaracterization.  The project decision does need public approval as revealed in the remainder of that paragraph:
. . .It will, however, need planning and zoning approvals as well as county and/or city cooperation for any accommodations it might need, such as the closing of local roads.
Planning, zoning, street closures, "accommodations," etc., apparently are minor annoyances to the proponents of the plan, but are the points where the public has a direct interest and is why the public should have been brought into this process from the very beginning.  This proposal is totally inconsistent with the Utica Master Plan's vision of a mixed-use, small scale development, "walkable" Downtown -- a plan that was duly adopted by the public's representatives after many public hearings. No doubt the Downtown hospital idea will now be pushed through the public bodies making required decisions (following a bunch of "window dressing" "public hearings") as an "all or nothing at all" proposition with individual board members pressured not to stand in the way of $300 Million.
Why do we need a new hospital when we have three?
Need is a relative term and it’s not certain that a new hospital is needed...
So, really, the hospital is not "needed" which makes it a "want" rather than a "need." That makes a Downtown hospital even more a "want" rather than a "need."

This raises the question WHO "wants" a Downtown Hospital?    
Health system officials and their consultants considered 12 sites – three in the city – but will not release the list. They also have declined comment on any sites other than downtown and St. Luke’s. They did say that the other two sites in Utica were not determined to be suitable and were not put before the health system board.
If the health system board only was presented with two sites for consideration, then it was the health system "officials" and their "consultants" who restricted the board's consideration of sites.  Who are the "officials," who are the "consultants" . . . and, perhaps more importantly, who are their connections?  

Come on O-D.  There is a golden opportunity for some real journalism here.  Don't take at face value and merely report what you hear from the "officials" involved.

Someone originated the idea of a new hospital, Someone originated the idea as being ripe for state funding, and Someone originated the idea of putting it Downtown.  

Exposing the Someones and the complete chain of events will expose who really pulls the strings in Utica and the region.


Anonymous said...

Going along the lines of MVHS being a private organization I do not understand the "3 Hospital" argument - St Lukes and E's days are numbered and there will only be ONE major Hospital between Syracuse and Cooperstown. Now the City of Utica has been given the option to make a choice that no other Town in this area has been given - do they want a major Hospital or do they want small clinics (who send out everything but the sniffles to the major Hospital)?

As someone who lives outside the city it pains me (and everyone else) to have to go into the City so I hope they say no. However, to say no does nothing but highlight the continued self imposed decline that the City has put itself into since... well... ever. I mean seriously the Cities of Rome, Oneida, Hamilton, Little Falls, and etc will all have Hospitals but the City of Utica wont? Yes we will lie to patients and say that they are in Utica but we all will know the truth - the Town of New Hartford is/was gracious enough to let the Hospital sit on the very edge of the property line and not point out that the City continues to mooch off the Towns Success.

I would laugh if the town said no to the new Hospital being at St Lukes and it ends up on Middle Settlement Road between 12B and 5. Then what's the city going to do? R.M.

Cadillac Rules said...

Does anyone really think the OD will do anything to shine the light of truth and transparency on this hospital mess. The elites have spoken.

Strikeslip said...

Anonymous 1239: You present false choices (sort of like the president saying either approve the Iran deal or we go to war). The hospital can go to the St. Lukes campus -- and if not there, there are surely other places within Utica that could be made amenable if they are not so now (like the Psych Center).

And your idea that the Town of New Hartford was "gracious" in hosting the St. Lukes campus, and Utica is "mooching" off the Town's "success" is laughable. (1) The location was simply available and accessible at the time St. Lukes built - former farmland - New Hartford did nothing to attract St. Lukes there. (2) Utica provides the fire protection to St. Lukes, so there's no "mooching." If the Town has a problem playing host, that can be easily resolved by the Hospital requesting and Utica agreeing to annex the site -- Just like Masonic Home did.

As far as a Middle Settlement Road alternative, dream on. That is so far away from the bulk of the population to be served that if that ever happened you can be sure that corruption would be involved.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt that the hospital would end up on Middle Settlement Road (Which already has the Medical Imaging Center and actually would be a great spot) - I was just merely using that as an example to show that as a private business they can put the hospital wherever they want. I was also using it to kindof hijack the tread to point out the the City seems to be using the huge gains of others to boost themselves while they seemingly make no gains but I'll stop....

MVHS is being nice and giving the City of Utica the option, but I highly doubt that it will go in Utica - they don't seem to have the money for demolition work to begin with. But 10 Years from now when Citizens on the other side of 12 ask why they have to go across East Utica, across West Utica, and through Whitestown/NY Mills to get to a real Hospital when they could of had one down town please remember this conversation.

Additionally the little I know about Utica is that I would never want to go to that part of Utica - How is it considered to be downtown? Couldn't this be used as an Anchor Point as part of the Downtown Plan - all trails lead to the Hospital sort of deal? Wouldn't a Level 1 Hospital at this sight spur restaurants, shops, and maybe even the Hotel Utica? Other than the shady process (but its a private business that can operate how they want) I guess I'm just not understanding why this is a negative thing. R.M.

Strikeslip said...

Thank you Anonymous 1249 for your comment.

Regarding your first point that the hospital is a private business and can go where it wants: 50 years ago you would have been correct. But now many hospitals (ours included) subsist on large infusions of public money for construction projects. Therefore, while their boards may be private, they are subject to the government control that is attached to the funds. They are also subject to government regulatory control like any other person anyway. (i.e., no one can go and do whatever they want wherever they want).

Regarding your second point re MVHS being "nice" and giving Utica the "option," it was implied by the legislation for the $300Million grant that Utica needed to be considered: the government control referenced above. No one is being "nice." As far as placing the hospital at a location that will be inconvenient to most of its customers: (1) that simply does not make business sense, and (2) it would contravene the legislation and result in the loss of the grant.

You bring up a key point when you say you never want to go to that part of Utica. Although you do not want to go there now, you would want to go there in the future if it offered something that attracted you or were interested in: like the new Ocean Blue rooftop restaurant, perhaps. No one wants to go to the hospital -- you go there when you or a family member or friend are injured or sick and you must go. You do your business there (perhaps including a meal in the cafeteria or buying a gift in the gift shop) and leave -- and do not voluntarily go back. As for employees generating business, by the time they walk across the campus during their lunch break, it will be time to go back to work. That is why a hospital can never be a spur to Downtown development. It generates no voluntary repeat business. To prove my point, neither St. Lukes nor St E spurred development where they are now. Go to Syracuse and look at the neighborhood surrounding busy St. Joes -- it needs a bulldozer.

As for not understanding why the hospital would be a negative: its size, single use, and street closures will prevent the "critical mass" of small business activity needed to create a "buzz" and "excitement" from developing (i.e., creating a "want" in people to go there). Unless a private developer comes in and assembles all the pieces, the process of small business "trial and error" creating a "critical mass" of activity takes many years to develop -- even generations. That process is just beginning anew Downtown now. (The "critical mass" had been there before, but highway and urban renewal projects of the past destroyed it. Now we know better. This is something that government planners are just starting to recognize, but they apparently have not gotten the message in Utica yet.) Growing a new Downtown will take time, but it will happen -- unless the hospital prevents it by gobbling up most of the developable land: there simply won't be enough room for the "critical mass" to exist.