New York Methodist Hospital

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New York Methodist Hospital
NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System
Methodist Hospital 141.jpg
Location New York, United States
Network NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System
Beds 651
Founded May 27, 1881
Lists Hospitals in New York

New York Methodist Hospital (NYM) is a hospital located in the historic brownstone neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, on Sixth Street. The hospital is a 651-bed voluntary, non-profit hospital and serves almost 38,000 inpatients each year. Another 250,000 outpatient visits and services are logged annually. The Hospital is also a major teaching hospital, with ten graduate medical education programs and five schools that provide training in allied health professions. New York Methodist Hospital is affiliated with the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. They are also a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System which provides access to physicians and resources.

New York Methodist has a number of institutes that bring together multidisciplinary specialists to provide care and offer community education and physician referral services. These are the Institute for Advanced and Minimally Invasive Surgery, the Institute for Asthma and Other Lung Diseases, the Institute for Cancer Care, the Institute for Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, the Institute for Digestive and Liver Disorders, the Institute for Family Care, the Institute for Neurosciences, the Institute for Orthopedic Medicine and Surgery, the Institute for Vascular Medicine and Surgery and the Institute for Women's Health.

Since 2006, NYM has received the Consumer's Choice Award for Brooklyn every year. The award, given by the National Research Corporation, recognizes hospitals with outstanding service and quality marketing areas across the United States. Winners are determined by consumer perceptions on best doctors, best nurses, quality and image ratings collected through a survey.



By 1880, the population of Brooklyn was nearly 600,000. As businessmen and builders plotted the development of new residential districts to house this burgeoning population and planned new transit lines to move commuters between home and work, Brooklynites enjoyed themselves listening to concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, taking a dip in the ocean at Coney Island or cheering on their own Brooklyn Atlantics at the Union Base Ball Grounds in Williamsburg.

It was also a busy year for the Reverend James Monroe Buckley, editor of the influential Methodist Episcopal periodical The Christian Advocate. Buckley, formerly the pastor of a congregation on Hanson Place, had set his heart on founding a new hospital. Buckley was well aware that as Brooklyn continued to grow, accidents, as well as the other health emergencies besetting an expanding population, required new and state-of-the-art hospital facilities. As a Methodist, he also felt that his denomination should play a role in implementing and sustaining the medical and social services that an increasingly urban America needed. In January 1881, he used the columns of The Christian Advocate to challenge his fellow Methodists to establish such a facility, asking them, “Is it not time that somewhere we built a hospital?”

Buckley’s challenge was promptly answered by George Ingraham Seney, a prominent banker, art connoisseur, Methodist layman and Brooklyn resident. Seney pledged $100,000 and several land lots to begin construction of the hospital pavilions, and to incorporate the institution and appoint a board of trustees. On May 27, 1881, the Methodist Episcopal Hospital was born when Buckley and his associates obtained a charter from the State of New York. On September 21 of that year, they laid the cornerstone for the Hospital’s main building


On December 19, 1887, the Methodist Episcopal Hospital admitted its first patient. During its first year of operation, the Hospital’s medical faculty numbered sixteen: two attending surgeons, two attending physicians, four assistants, two consulting physicians, two consulting surgeons, one pathologist and a house staff of three additional doctors. The Hospital also attracted a small support staff of “internes,” new doctors in need of postgraduate training, who among their other duties were responsible for examining and recommending admission of new patients. In 1888, the Hospital opened its Training School for Nurses, which immediately proved to be a highly effective educational program as well as a source of nursing support for the doctors. The Children’s Ward, which opened in 1889, inaugurated Methodist’s commitment to pediatric care for Brooklyn’s youngest residents.

In its earliest years, the Hospital divided its services between the “medical” and the “surgical,” with the latter encompassing the vast majority of its patient caseload. While some of this surgery was elective, much of it consisted of emergency cases rushed to the Hospital by its ambulance. As the Hospital’s first annual report observed in 1888, “the great strain which our intense modern life puts upon both body and mind” jeopardized the well-being of Brooklynites in the forms of industrial machinery, urban overcrowding and traffic, and “the multiplication of vices always associated with crowded populations,” including alcoholism and addiction.

As a community hospital, Methodist treated patients for a seemingly endless variety of ailments and afflictions, ranging from epilepsy, “hysteria,” typhoid fever, and opium and gas poisoning, to providing corrective surgery for a veteran whose legs had been amputated during the Civil War. It also became the principal health center for the young single women, many of them immigrants, who worked as live-in domestic servants, cooks and nannies for the moneyed families occupying Park Slope’s new brownstone townhouses.

By 1907, the Hospital’s original seventy beds had grown to two hundred. And by 1912, the staff and trustees could look back proudly on twenty five years of service in which the Hospital had cared for a total of 42,879 inpatients, provided nearly $1 million in free care and over 100,000 outpatient dispensary visits.

The Baby Hospital[edit]

The “roaring twenties” would witness new construction at the Hospital, and by mid-decade, Methodist’s total bed capacity had risen to 375. To reach the Hospital during emergencies, Brooklyn residents could now rely on a General Motors ambulance that had replaced the much-used old horse-drawn vehicles. Perhaps most notable of the Hospital’s new additions was the Maternity Building, completed in 1924. Obstetrics had become one of the Hospital’s “growth” fields. In the Maternity Building’s first eight months, 863 babies were born, and the Hospital’s doctors made news in 1925 when they delivered three sets of twins within 24 hours. Even during the financially trying times of the Great Depression and the rations of wartime, the Maternity Building remained busy.

With the end of World War II and Korean War, veterans and their wives created their own “baby boom” at the Hospital. The Maternity Building had become one of the Hospital’s busiest. In 1952, the Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that its staff had delivered 54,300 babies since the Pavilion had opened in 1924. Methodist was now known throughout Brooklyn as “The Baby Hospital.”

Mother Hospital of Methodism[edit]

Since its inception, the Hospital’s denominational orientation was a key feature of its identity. Over the years, board members and administrators continued to describe patients, regardless of their religious beliefs, as “guests of the Church.” The Hospital’s affiliation resulted in a name change. In 1969, as the three American branches of Methodism prepared to come together as the United Methodist Church, Methodist Episcopal Hospital officially became the Methodist Hospital of Brooklyn. The UMC and the Hospital have since replaced their corporate connection with a “traditional” relationship.

The institution continues to be proud of its identity as the “Mother Hospital of Methodism,” the very first of 78 United Methodist Church-affiliated hospitals in the United States. In 1970, the Hospital was designated a National Historic Landmark of the United Methodist Church. The plaque, displayed at the Hospital, reads, in part: “The First Methodist Hospital in the world established May 27, 1881 in the City of Brooklyn, NY, on this site.”

A New Era[edit]

By 1963, the Hospital was the workplace of 141 full-time physicians and surgeons, a consulting staff of 36 and a courtesy staff of thirty six, over 400 full-time nurses, 170 student nurses, fifty two interns and residents, 138 volunteers, and 885 other workers.

As New York City weathered a fiscal crisis and a widespread reputation for urban decay in the 1970s, Brooklyn was experiencing the first stirrings of a rebirth that would blossom fully in the decades to come. After 1965, revised federal immigration laws drew fresh generations of newcomers to New York City, many of whom settled in Brooklyn, where they reinvigorated old neighborhoods and community businesses. In Park Slope, young professionals recognized the charm and convenience of one of Brooklyn’s most distinguished neighborhoods and began moving in, changing the commercial and residential character of the district.

In harmony with the borough’s regained vitality, the Methodist Hospital undertook a modernization program that renewed and enhanced the entire institution. The old Nurses’ Residence building was transformed into a new East Pavilion to meet the need for more office space. The eight-story New Pavilion opened in 1983 with a state-of-the-art operating room suite, recovery rooms, an obstetrical suite, delivery rooms and nurseries, intensive care units, a blood bank and clinical laboratories. In 1997, the New Pavilion was renamed the John E. Carrington Pavilion to honor Dr. Carrington, a Methodist minister and trustee who joined the board in 1968 and has served as its chairman since 1979.

Growth and Innovation[edit]

The 1990s proved to be a busy and momentous decade for the Hospital. A major commitment was made to new, minimally invasive surgery techniques. Additionally, the Hospital availed itself of new developments in diagnostic imaging technology such as ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear medicine. New programs in place by the mid-1990s offered a wide array of innovative inpatient and outpatient services. Among them were a cardiac catheterization unit, a cardiopulmonary physiology laboratory, a chest pain emergency center, a chronic pain management center, a sleep disorders center, a reproductive endocrinology lab, a spine and arthritis center and a women’s diagnostic center.

As the 1990s progressed, it became clear that market forces were driving health care providers into a new era, even without health care reform legislation. The Hospital’s trustees secured the institution’s future when they entered into an alliance with The New York Hospital, now the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, in 1993. The New York Hospital Care Network, now the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, was formed to ensure that people in the metropolitan area would continue to have access to high quality medical care in spite of a rapidly evolving health care system and escalating costs. Membership in the System and affiliation with the Weill Cornell Medical College also enhanced graduate medical education at the Hospital, as residents in many of its ten training programs now benefited from shared NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell faculty members in several subspecialties. A new name accompanied membership in the System: in 1994 the medical complex centered on Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue officially became New York Methodist Hospital (NYM).

The first years of the 21st century brought further innovation at New York Methodist Hospital. The year 2000 saw the opening of new obstetrics facilities that included a mother-baby unit (post partum floor), an expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a birthing center with 12 labor-delivery-recovery rooms committed to a “family-centered birthing experience.” Along with a state-of-the-art fertility center, these new facilities upheld NYM’s proud reputation as the “The Baby Hospital,” while extending women’s health care through the latest technologies and therapies.

New York Methodist Hospital continued to develop and offer a range of state-of-the-art medical services, including advanced laparoscopic surgery, deep brain stimulation (to treat Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions) and IMRT, one of the most advanced forms of radiation therapy against cancer tumors.

Surgery in the New York Methodist-Cornell Heart Center.

One of the new century’s most noteworthy events for the Hospital was the opening in April 2004 of the New York Methodist-Cornell Heart Center which brought to Brooklyn a patient-centered, state-of-the-art cardiac surgery center staffed with a top-rated surgical team from the Weill Cornell Medical Center. The new Center was developed after New York State selected NYM to create a comprehensive heart surgery program for the borough of Brooklyn. It is only the third such center in Brooklyn and was approved by the State following a highly competitive process. The Center opened with two cardiac surgery rooms, eight-bed cardiac intensive care unit, and patient and family waiting areas.

In 2007, NYM completed work on a new seven-story patient care pavilion that provides space for a greatly enlarged Emergency Department (including a separate pediatric emergency room), an updated pediatrics unit and four spacious and modern medical/surgical units. NYM also unveiled the Advanced Women’s Imaging and Prenatal Testing Center. This new state-of-the-art facility provides a range of sophisticated prenatal testing options for pregnant women, including laboratory tests and ultrasound tests. The center also offers services and diagnostic examinations focused on prevention and early detection of breast and gynecologic diseases, including breast mammography and ultrasound, gynecological ultrasound and bone densitometry. The Hospital’s physician offices at One Prospect Park West also made their debut in 2009. The construction of the new site allowed NYM to expand services in urology, pediatrics, podiatry and orthopedics, and wound care.

The second decade of the 21st century is off to an equally impressive start, with the opening of coordinated, comprehensive programs for the diagnosis and treatment of liver, breast, prostate and lung cancers; expansion of interventional pulmonology and radiology services, and broadening services for patients with Parkinson’s disease, liver and digestive disorders, and chronic back and neck pain. In 2010, robot-assisted surgery debuted as a program of the Hospital’s Institute for Advanced and Minimally Invasive Surgery and in 2011; NYM was named an Epicenter for Robotic Thoracic Surgery—the first in the Northeast and only the third in the United States.

As Brooklyn continues to grow, New York Methodist seeks to fulfill the founding mission of Reverend James Monroe Buckley, to provide excellent health care services in a compassionate and humane manner for the people who live and work in Brooklyn and its surrounding areas. New York Methodist Hospital is expanding its reach to fulfill that mission with specialized institutes, off-site outpatient facilities and a proposed 500,000 square foot medical center that has been the subject of local controversy.

Expansion and Property Development[edit]

Proposal for a Major Medical Facility[edit]

New York Methodist has been the subject of controversy after unveiling plans for a major development across the street from the community hospital. Though more affordable real estate has been available near public transportation and major traffic arteries more suitable to medical services, the 500,000 medical facility was designed for property already owned by the hospital in the narrow streets of historic Park Slope. Such a dramatic new development requires approvals and variances from several public agencies after public review and established community support.

Rendering of proposed building for New York Methodist Hospital expansion in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

New York Methodist informed neighbors directly across the street from the proposed development on 5th Street and 8th Avenue in June 2013. At informational meetings, NYM representatives solicited input from only the closest neighbors, preventing residents as close as a block away from attending.[1]

When the greater community later discovered that New York Methodist was planning a development as large as 500,000 square feet that would include parking for more than 1,000 vehicles and would destroy several historic brownstone buildings, neighborhood advocacy organization Preserve Park Slope was quickly formed to formally address neighborhood concerns about the impact of such a large facility on infrastructure, safety and quality of life.

Councilman Brad Lander sent hospital planners a letter requesting revisions to the proposal that would “reduce the building bulk” and shift some of the mass toward the center of the block. The letter was sent a few days prior to the first public hearing, months after the original plans were proposed, putting the Councilman on record but likely having little impact on the development plans.[2]

Public Hearing, September 26, 2013[edit]

New York Methodist representatives presented a revised plan that addressed some concerns they had received from neighbors on 5th Street and 8th Avenue. In the presentation, VP for Communication, Lyn Hill, stressed that the hospital had gone to great lengths to incorporate community feedback and concerns, though the vast majority of hospital neighbors were not allowed to participate in those discussions.[3]

Among the top concerns raised by nearby residents were:

  • lack of long term planning
  • lack of factual data
  • traffic safety
  • pedestrian safety
  • infrastructure
  • air pollution
  • parking
  • historic preservation
  • underground water contamination

Despite some revisions to the original proposal, which were enough to quickly sway the opinion of Councilman Brad Lander, residents continued to demand factual data and a long term plan. Research on the impact of the development was entirely sourced by the hospital and their consultants, and depended on more estimates and approximations than specific data. Apart from the many specific concerns residents expressed, the overall lack of facts and transparency undermined public trust at the hearing.

“There was not one number given tonight,” said Marvin Ciporen of Eighth Avenue.[4]

Public Opposition to NYM Development Grows[edit]

Between the public hearings, public opposition grew quickly. Neighborhood news outlets like Park Slope Stoop laid out the details of the NYM expansion plan, which in many cases was the first time neighborhood residents realized the building would be three times the heigh of many neighboring houses, or that hospital documents projected hundreds of new patients would be driving down 5th and 6th Streets each weekday.[5]

Beyond neighborhood concerns, Brooklyn bloggers and other city observers noted the apparent absurdity of dedicating public resources and allowing variances to build a massive new development while large health centers nearby were closing down and were available to meet the stated needs of New York Methodist.

A deep analysis of the situation, published by Noticing New York, pointed out the many fallacies in the NYM plan when taken in context. In particular, the report noted that while New York Methodist was planning to build 500,000 square feet to accommodate their current needs, “more than 765,000 square feet of medical facility space would be shut down” at nearby LICH at the same time.[6]

A town hall discussion hosted by the Prospect Park Civic Council on September 30 was filled to capacity, and featured much of the same discussion topics as the September CB6 Hearing. There were more speakers in opposition to the development than time allowed for, and directors of the organization sorted through written questions in advance to determine who would speak. This was the first time many in the community realized that the New York Methodist VP of Communications was also chair of the Civic Council board of trustees, giving her the conflicting responsibilities of both advocating for the hospital while representing the community organization whose constituents appeared largely opposed to the hospital expansion.

In October, a young boy in the neighborhood was tragically stuck and killed by a van on a nearby street, which immediately increased attention paid to issues of traffic safety and awareness of school children in the neighborhood. The site of the accident on Prospect Park West is part of the main artery that serves hospital traffic.[7] An open letter to Councilman Brad Lander in response to this incident was signed by more than 200 neighbors, requesting that any major hospital development be put on hold until an independent traffic safety study could be conducted.

Preserve Park Slope then petitioned representatives of the hospital, Community Board 6, and Councilman Brad Lander with a letter asking that the hospital “dramatically scale back” the proposed development. This petition quickly passed its goal of 500 signatures in the days before the next public hearing.[8]

Public Hearing, November 21, 2013[edit]

At the crowded Community Board 6 hearing on November 21, more than 60 people spoke in addition to the hospital development team. 43 speakers, mostly neighborhood residents, were opposed; 23 speakers, mostly hospital employees, were in favor.

New York Methodist representatives further revised their development plans to incorporate some of the concerns expressed by the community, but Community Board 6 determined that New York Methodist had not presented evidence that the expansion was necessary, and voted to oppose the proposal.[9]

Prior to this hearing, Councilman Brad Lander had changed his position to whole-heartedly support the expansion. He cited the failure of nearby Long Island Community Hospital, saying “LICH is failing in part because they didn’t have a good, long-term strategy.”

Many neighbors and members of the community board appeared to disagree with Landers’ assessment, with one CB6 member, Roy Sloane, calling their vote a “call for comprehensive health care solution for the entire borough.”[10]

New York Methodist representatives themselves suggested that the proposed expansion is necessary to address little more than current demand and does not account for the closing of LICH and other facilities, nor Brooklyn’s dramatic population growth.

Conditional Community Board 6 Approval[edit]

At a CB6 hearing on January 6, 2014, New York Methodist representatives argued they could in fact build a substantially less appealing building as-of-right while adhering to current building codes and zoning laws. In presenting the alternative plan, NYM representatives suggested a pair of buildings in the middle of the block, including an area that hospital planners had previously claimed was unfeasible for development.

Community Board 6 determined that although New York Methodist still had not presented any evidence that the expansion was necessary, the threat of an as-of-right development without detailed public review was serious enough that the Board would recommend to the BSA an approval of the proposed development, with several conditions, including the presentation of a valid Certificate of Need, a “long-range plan” for at least 20 years, a new Environmental Assessment Study, a full scale traffic study, and several design requests.[11]

The conditions and expressed reluctance of CB6 members were further made clear in a March 25 letter to the Board of Standards and Appeals which described some of the oblique arguments heard at this meeting by pointing out that: "NYM was questioned as to how it determined a projected need for 12 new operating rooms. NYM’s representative responded only that they had considered their current complement of 10 operating rooms in the existing hospital facility and roughly extrapolated a need for two more, without further explanation or clarification as to how many of the existing operating rooms would remain in use and whether any would remain available for outpatient surgical procedures if needed. It should be noted that the number of operating rooms in the new facility is one of the programmatic factors that will have a direct correlation with potential traffic impact in the immediate vicinity, as surgical patients are highly unlikely to arrive and depart by means other than automobile."[12]

This letter also described several items that could still be improved and again highlighted the lack of detail and justification that continued to confuse the expansion proposal.

Board of Standards and Appeals Decision[edit]

New York Methodist submitted and received approval for variances from the Board of Standards and Appeals based on development plans dated April 22, 2014.

Bennett Kleinberg, head of Preserve Park Slope, vowed to continue challenging the expansion until more modifications are made.[13]

Photo gallery[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°40′3.27″N 73°58′42.85″W / 40.6675750°N 73.9785694°W / 40.6675750; -73.9785694