Health Care

Mount Sinai Medical Center opens new addition in Miami Beach. Will patients come?

Mount Sinai Medical Center opens a new surgical tower and emergency room Saturday on the hospital’s Miami Beach campus on Alton Road. The addition cost an estimated $275 million and positions Mount Sinai to provide high-end medical care and compete for patients.
Mount Sinai Medical Center opens a new surgical tower and emergency room Saturday on the hospital’s Miami Beach campus on Alton Road. The addition cost an estimated $275 million and positions Mount Sinai to provide high-end medical care and compete for patients.

Mount Sinai Medical Center, the only hospital in Miami Beach, will open a $275 million addition Saturday, adding a surgical tower with private patient rooms and a new emergency department to its main campus on Alton Road.

The project is the largest ever proposed by Mount Sinai, and comes as other South Florida hospitals are expanding as well, including the University of Miami Health System, which announced plans in December for a $111 million renovation and addition to its hospital in Miami’s Civic Center neighborhood.

Mount Sinai representatives declined to respond to written questions from the Miami Herald. The addition of a seven-story surgical tower, named for the family of Barry Skolnick, vice chair of Mount Sinai’s board of trustees, and a 34,000-square-foot emergency department, named for the Mount Sinai board’s chairman Mark Hildebrandt, will allow the hospital to provide high-end medical care and compete for patients.

The addition of 154 patient rooms in the surgical tower comes when more hospital care is moving to outpatient settings where patients are sent home on the same day they receive a medical procedure.

But Mount Sinai is counting on stand-alone emergency rooms in Aventura and Hialeah to drive more referrals of patients who need the type of care that requires an overnight stay at a hospital. In a bond prospectus published in December, Mount Sinai executives projected the Hialeah stand-alone ER will generate 900 patient admissions to the Miami Beach hospital and an additional $18.5 million in revenues in the first year.

Operating costs will also increase with the expansion as the hospital system hires more employees, buys more supplies and assumes other additional expenses. The hospital’s December bond prospectus projects that Mount Sinai’s total expenses will rise by about $19.7 million or about 3.5 percent from 2018 to 2019.

The expansion will also help Mount Sinai remain competitive with other regional hospitals in the cardiac and vascular surgery business.

The new surgical tower includes 12 operating rooms that allow physicians to perform vascular and cardiac procedures in less time by integrating a catheterization lab and an operating room into a single space.

With 50 treatment rooms and six areas for psychiatric evaluations, the new emergency center will have room for 75,000 patient visits a year, according to a press release announcing the expansion. In 2018, the hospital’s emergency department had 53,358 visits.

The new facilities were built to withstand hurricane-force winds and flooding, with generators capable of powering the campus for a week. The Miami Beach Emergency Command Center will be housed on the second floor of the new emergency center.

In the press release, CEO Steven Sonenreich said the expansion would help the hospital system continue to serve uninsured patients. About one in four residents of Miami Beach does not have health insurance, according to Sonenreich’s statement. In November 2018, Fitch Ratings, a credit-rating agency, issued an analysis in June that said Mount Sinai has been successful with its strategy of developing outpatient centers such as the stand-alone ERs.

According to Fitch, Mount Sinai saw a 2.4 percent drop in open heart surgeries in 2017 after transitioning to a new head of cardiovascular surgery in late 2016. But cardiac surgery volume is “trending upward,” Fitch’s analysis said, and Mount Sinai continues to lead other local hospitals in the number of cardiac surgeries performed. The hospital system performed 697 open heart surgeries in 2017.

Daniel Chang covers health care for the Miami Herald, where he works to untangle the often irrational world of health insurance, hospitals and health policy for readers.
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