Mt. Sinai gets emergency room boost
Mt. Sinai Medical Center is getting a new emergency room facility, with the help of a hefty grant approved recently by the Miami Beach City Commission.
The $15 million grant is to be used solely by Mt. Sinai for the design and construction of its new ER facility. The grant amount provides $15,000,000 in annual installments over the course of 15 years, beginning on Oct. 1, 2015, in the amount of $1 million a year.
“It’s important to have a top-rate emergency center in the City of Miami Beach to take care of our residents, to take care of our visitors,” said Commissioner Joy Malakoff.
In addition to the grant amount, the city agreed to reimburse Mt. Sinai for its building permit fees, not just for the ER project, but for all the current projects Mt. Sinai is undertaking. That includes renovation to the sea wall and the capital plant. That amount will not exceed $1.5 million, and is a reimbursement, not a blanket payment.
The city commission had directed city staff and City Manager Jimmy Morales to draft the grant and lease agreement for the space, working with the medical center’s staff.
“We believe the draft before you reflects the economic and legal terms you all requested,” Mr. Morales told the commission.
The approval of the grant agreement authorized Mr. Morales and staff to move forward with finalizing additional public benefits, the most important being that Mt. Sinai agreed to give the city a lease for 50 years in the amount of $1 a year for up to 2,000 square feet in the new ER facility for use as an emergency command center.
Drafts of the agreements were presented to the city commission, though the additional public benefits were not finalized due to timing. An additional agreement is yet to be negotiated for a potential bay site for public use as a baywalk along Mt. Sinai.
“The opportunity is there … for us to create a wonderful amenity,” Mr. Morales said.
Additional public benefits range from 700 1-day parking vouchers annually for distribution by the city at senior centers, quarterly outreach seminars at senior centers, and the participation of Mt. Sinai and hospital staff at career days at city schools.
Commissioner Jonah Wolfson, who did not vote to approve the grant, disagreed with the execution of the agreement because the exact details of all the public benefits were not hammered out by the time of the city commission meeting.
“The order of the execution of these agreements is important … if we execute this now and we complete this now I think we lose some leverage long term,” Mr. Wolfson said.
“The right thing to do is basically execute all these agreements simultaneously and wait until everything is worked out and do everything at once. In that way we end up where we know exactly what is happening,” Mr. Wolfson said.
Some of the agreements, like the exact location of where the city’s emergency center would take place, can’t be finalized until the design of the project is finalized. Before the baywalk agreement is finalized, the area will have to be professionally surveyed and holding off on the grant agreement until then could take months, city officials said.
“From a timing perspective … the lease will be difficult because we have to identify what the lease space is and they haven’t designed the building yet. With respect to the easement with regards to the walkway, we’ll have to go out and do a survey. There is some work to be done,” Mr. Morales said.
“We have a lease for a certain amount of square footage in the new building. What if we don’t like where they decide to put us,” Commissioner Michael Grieco asked.
For the city, the safety is in holding the checkbook. All these agreements, from the easement to the lease arrangement must be decided on before the first grant payment will be made.
“Devil’s in the details, I agree,” Mayor Phillip Levine said. The biggest power in the world is the power in the checkbook, Mr. Levine said. The city cannot be compelled to take a space they don’t want.
“The grant agreement today is really the framework to move forward,” Mr. Morales said.
Mt. Sinai is giving the city space that under any other circumstance the city would normally have to pay for, said Commissioner Deedee Weithorn. “For my children, and for my children’s children, we are providing for that space and we are paying for it up front,” she said.