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NYU’s emergency room gave special treatment to donors and VIPs including Chuck Schumer, report says


A building of NYU Langone Health.NYU Langone prioritized “VIP” patients while others waited for care, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Noam Galai / Contributor/Getty Images

  • The New York Times reports NYU Langone gave “VIPs” like donors and trustees preferential treatment.
  • Meanwhile, sicker patients had to wait, and some unhoused patients were sent to a public hospital.
  • NYU Langone broadly denied the claims in a statement to Insider.

New York University Langone Health’s emergency department gave special treatment to donors and other important people, while sometimes discouraging poor people from seeking care, according to a report in The New York Times.

The report says that VIPs were sometimes seen in Room 20, a room that was supposed to be prioritized for particularly sick patients, or ones who needed to be isolated.

For instance, the Times reports that billionaire Home Depot cofounder Ken Langone was taken to Room 20, because he reported stomach pain. Langone is a major donor to the health system, which bears his name. Another trustee was reportedly taken to Room 20 because he was short of breath after exercise. Langone told the Times that he never asked for or was offered special treatment.

While VIPs were prioritized, unhoused patients were sometimes pushed to go to Bellevue, a public hospital nearby in Manhattan, the Times’ Sarah Kliff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg report. Ambulance workers who brought these patients to NYU Langone were sometimes pressured to take them elsewhere, the report says.

An NYU spokesperson told Insider in a statement:

“We strongly disagree with the accusations made in today’s article as it is based on distorted and outright fabricated allegations from sources with an agenda. NYU Langone Health provides one standard of world-class care to every single patient that comes through our doors, and the article seeks to undermine the great work our care teams diligently deliver every day to save lives regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, status, or wealth.”

NYU representatives and lawyers also told the Times that some sources in the article had reasons to disparage the hospital, such as not receiving jobs at NYU.

Media outlets including the Times have been reporting on the practices of nonprofit hospitals. For example, the Times has reported that the hospital system Providence pressured low-income patients to pay for care, even though they were entitled to free care. Kaiser Health News has reported on hospitals’ aggressive methods to get patients to pay their bills. In 2017, Politico reported on how hospitals made money while cutting care for their communities.

The Times report includes other ways that important patients were prioritized. Trustees had access to a special phone number to signal their arrival to the hospital, according to the report. Doctors were then notified that they were coming, and 30 doctors told the Times that the implication was that they give these trustees priority treatment.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer once went into Room 20 with his wife, who was experiencing shortness of breath, the Times reported. He and his wife were given expedited COVID-19 tests, according to the report. Meanwhile, sicker patients were treated in the hallway.

Schumer’s spokesperson told the Times that as part of his security protocol, he has to stay in a secure location when possible. Representatives for Schumer did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider