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Mount Sinai mulls sale of 120-year-old ‘Godfather’ hospital


Don Corleone narrowly escaped getting whacked in his hospital bed — however the historic medical constructing where it was staged won’t be so lucky.

The Recent York Eye and Ear Infirmary within the East Village, a part of Mount Sinai Health System, may be sold and demolished for a latest constructing, apprehensive doctors and staff members told The Post.

The 1902 constructing at 218 Second Ave., between East thirteenth and 14th streets — which was  the setting for Al Pacino’s rescue of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” —  is at the middle of a three-way drama involving medical care, historic preservation and a possible real estate windfall. (Pacino himself has actually been a patient there in recent times, insiders said.)

Mount Sinai merged with the Infirmary’s former owner, Continuum Health, in 2013, and has exercised increasing control of Eye and Ear ever since, sources said.

Within the interest of “streamlining” and reducing costs,  Mount Sinai is regularly moving surgery, clinical, ambulatory and other departments to locations it has around Manhattan — a claim which Sinai didn’t dispute.

Some doctors said the stealthy process will wreck the “synergy” of getting all of the functions in a single spot and diminish patient care.

The constructing was the setting for Al Pacino’s rescue of Marlon Brando in “The Godfather.” Courtesy Everett Collection

They fear that Mount Sinai will eventually empty the old constructing and an adjoining one inbuilt the Sixties at 310 E. 14th St. to clear the best way for a lucrative sale to a developer.

One doctor who didn’t wish to be named said, “Mount Sinai goes to shut this constructing and make whatever they will on it.”

Aware that Mount Sinai’s plans endangered the constructing, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation director Andrew Berman wrote to Mayor Eric Adams and Landmarks Preservation Commission chair Sarah Carroll last month to induce designating 218 Second Ave. as a city landmark.

He was joined by State Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assembly member Harvey Shapiro. Landmarking would prevent an owner from demolishing or altering the constructing without LPC approval.

One doctor who didn’t wish to be named said, ‘Mount Sinai goes to shut this constructing and make whatever they will on it.’

The Infirmary buildings in danger take up about 35,000 square feet of land. The location is zoned for residential development with floor space of as much as six times the bottom area — meaning a  latest constructing could have as much as 210,000 square feet of floor area.

Based on a median of recent Manhattan sales of residential air space of $250-350 per square foot, the Infirmary-owned land could fetch within the neighborhood of $70 million, real estate sources said.

Sources said that the Infirmary might lose in excess of $20 million this yr.

One insider said that Mount Sinai has been “surgically chopping up” the Infirmary for greater than a yr. The variety of operating rooms is being reduced from 18 to nine.

The historic New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at 218 Second Ave., right, and adjacent building at 310 E. 14th St. in the East Village.The historic Recent York Eye and Ear Infirmary at 218 Second Ave., right, and adjoining constructing at 310 E. 14th St. within the East Village.Stefan Jeremiah for Recent York Post

Dr. Douglas F. Buxton has practiced eye surgery on the Infirmary since 1983. He said, “They’re effectively evicting me” by the tip of 2024.

He lamented the “fragmenting” of  a “self-contained facility for eye diseases on one campus where all of the subspecialties were in a single constructing, which was unique.”

Mount Sinai declined to answer questions on its plans for the Infirmary buildings and whether it could support landmarking 218 Second Ave.,  a weathered but handsome six-story structure of stone and brick where Helen Keller delivered the dedication speech in 1902.

But in a recent video conference for senior staff, Infirmary president Dr. James Tsai discussed relocations planned for Eye and Ear’s surgery department, faculty practice, emergency room, research facilities and other units to Manhattan satellite sites owned by Sinai. They include  the Beth Israel campus on First Avenue at seventeenth Street, 1115 Broadway and 10 Union Square East.

“All that is being done very stealthily, a slow roll,” an insider said. “They don’t wish to draw attention to it. If you scatter all of the functions, it isn’t really Recent York Eye and Ear any more.”  

Joseph Burkart, a former Infirmary board chairman who stays in close touch with physicians there, said that breaking up the Infirmary “destroys what was a vital hospital for a whole bunch of hundreds of Recent Yorkers.”

He said that spreading the Infirmary’s units around town signifies that “people will not be coming to a hospital, but to a small facility [elsewhere] with just a few doctors. The inter-departmental synergy that the Infirmary has at all times provided might be lost.”

Said one other currently practicing doctor, “They’ve alienated people to make them leave. Some big surgeons have left. I believe their goal is to weaken the institution  in order that they can say they need to close.”

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