Lost Hospital — Mount Sinai Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania0

With an architectural style somewhere between art deco and modern art, Mount Sinai Hospital in Philadelphia was constructed from 1921 through 1939.

The facility reached 146 feet high with its 11 floors. It encompassed an entire  city block at 4th and Reed Streets in South Philadelphia. Mount Sinai and its 500 employees provided emergency and non emergency medical care to its community until it was closed in 1998.

In the 1980s, the owners of Mount Sinai faced insurmountable financial challenges.

On November 29, 1989, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an article stating that owners of Mount Sinai Hospital planned to convert the facility into a specialty hospital for psychiatric and rehabilitative medicine.According to the article in the Inquirer:

The problems were just too severe, and I couldn’t justify threatening the future financial health of the overall system by continuing to pump millions of dollars into Mount Sinai,” said Harold Cramer, chairman of Graduate Health System, which also owns Graduate Hospital, two New Jersey hospitals and a health-maintenance organization.

Graduate purchased Mount Sinai in 1988 from the Albert Einstein Medical Foundation for $10.5 million. Mount Sinai posted a loss of $3.5 million for the six-month period it was owned by Graduate that year. Most of the facility’s patients depend on government payments.

Graduate officials expect to cut Mount Sinai’s staff of 326 full-time workers and 111 part-time workers by about half after it becomes a specialty hospital.

In the end, blame was ultimately cast on the number of hospital beds in Philadelphia at the time:

Mount Sinai competes with three hospitals in South Philadelphia – Methodist Hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center and Pennsylvania Hospital. With more and more medical care being shifted to outpatient settings, the area probably had too many beds, some health-care officials said yesterday.

“That seems pretty much borne out by the numbers,” said G. Michael Bellenghi, a partner in the health-care section of Touche Ross, a major accounting firm. “It’s fairly clear the medical-surgical beds (at Mount Sinai) were not successful.”

“The South Philadelphia community is overbedded these days. With the other three hospitals there, it seems there are an adequate number to take care of the community,” said Michael Bradley, senior vice president of Thomas Jefferson University.

With its closure as an acute-care hospital, Mount Sinai joins a growing list of area hospitals in financial trouble. More than 25 percent are now posting financial losses, and two local hospitals are in bankruptcy proceedings, according to industry officials and health-care consultants.

“I’ve never seen it so bad. And it’s not just the hospitals you’d expect. It’s now a lot of hospitals that had been profitable until recently,” said Gerald Katz of the accounting firm of KPMG Peat Marwick.

As of 1999, the building was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as determined by the Philadelphia Historical and Museum Commission.

Photographs from OpacityS. Harris Ltd.

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