Governor David A. Paterson today joined the Board of Trustees of North General Hospital (NGH), the New York State Department of Health (DOH), the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) and the City of New York in announcing a comprehensive solution to preserve quality health care and save jobs at NGH's facility in Harlem.
The plan calls for new health services to take over and expand the current NGH facility. A "Super Urban" Federally Qualified Health Care (FQHC) site extension facility will open in the first week of July, and will be operated by the Institute for Family Health to ensure and expand available primary care at the NGH facility. Those services will be complemented by a newly constructed skilled nursing facility and a new long term acute care facility to be operated by the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation in what is now the main hospital building.
"Thirty years ago, North General Hospital was a pioneer in the health care industry; a private hospital opening while public hospitals were failing. However, with the hard work, determination and vision of Eugene McCabe, Randolph Guggenheimer and the entire Harlem community, North General became a key resource for health care," said Governor Paterson. "Today's announcement will reinvent that vision by allowing North General to be a pioneer once again and continue to provide for the health care needs of Harlem."
Like many stand-alone hospitals, NGH has seen a decline in both patient admissions and payor reimbursements. Over the past 12 months, the Board has worked with the Governor, DOH, DASNY and the City of New York to reach a consensual resolution to the historical and persistent financial challenges NGH has endured.
NGH Board Chairman Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III considers the plan to repurpose NGH for new health care facilities a wonderful outcome for both NGH and Harlem. He said: "This almost seamless landing was not easy to achieve, but it underscores the good will and creativity that exists at state, federal, city, local and community levels, both public and private. While it saddens us all to face closing the doors of a hospital that's been an integral part of our neighborhood for thirty years, we see this as an opportunity to not only continue to use the North General facility to maintain the health of the people of this community, but as a way to allow the facility to continue to be an economic asset to the Harlem community".
The new FQHC is expected to serve as a new model for such facilities in urban areas because of the scope of the primary care services it can provide to an estimated 80,000 people a year. The new FHQC is expected to open in North General's former Diagnostic and Treatment Center in July 2010 and operate there until its new state-of-the-art facility is completed at NGH's Annex Building. It will provide Urgi-care (urgent care for minor injuries and illnesses) for area residents as well as primary care, mental health, dental and school-based health services currently provided by NGH.
The City of New York and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) have reached agreement with the Governor, State Department of Health, and North General Hospital to relocate more than 200 long term acute care beds and related services from the Coler/Goldwater Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island to the Harlem community. With capital financing from the City, HHC will also build a state-of-the-art skilled nursing facility to replace its outdated facilities on the Goldwater campus.
In order to accelerate and facilitate the transfer of the various hospital properties to the new health care providers, NGH will file for court-supervised Reorganization under Chapter 11. NGH will begin winding down operations on or before July 2, 2010. Neighboring hospitals, including Mount Sinai, St. Luke's, New York-Presbyterian, Harlem and Metropolitan are prepared to serve the community's acute care hospital and emergency room needs.
Congressman Charles Rangel said: "This announcement is great news for not just for people in Upper Manhattan, but for all those who care about health care access. Thanks to the hardwork of so many, we have been able to leverage available federal, state and city resources to ensure that health care delivery is maintained and expanded in our community."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "North General Hospital and its facilities will continue to house critical health care services for the Harlem community and all of New York City. The relocation of some of the City's long term care services to Harlem will ensure a continuing vibrant health care presence there while simultaneously improving New York City's Health and Hospital Corporation's long-term care facilities."
Neil Calman MD, President and CEO of the Institute for Family Health, which will operate the FQHC, said: "It is a privilege to be asked by Reverend Butts and the Board of North General to develop an FQHC in this historic community. We are honored to have the support of Governor Paterson and the New York State Department of Health as well as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We look forward to offering our patients a new level of care, supported by the latest technology, in their new Medical Home."
State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said: "This transformation is a vote of confidence for improved health care for the community. It is clearer than ever that effective, quality health care should not begin with a hospital visit. Our communities need well-developed primary and preventive care to improve the community's health status and avoid hospitalization when appropriate. The Governor, North General's Board and management, DASNY and the Department of Health address this with the important partnership with the FQHC and the exploration of redevelopment options."
DASNY President Paul T. Williams, Jr. said: "DASNY has participated in workout solutions for troubled hospitals before. As a partner with Governor Paterson, the Department of Health and North General's Board, we will all work with the local community, elected representatives and stakeholders to maintain health care, economic development and community services for the residents of Harlem consistent with our obligations to bondholders."
HHC President Alan D. Aviles said: "HHC, through its Harlem Hospital, Metropolitan Hospital, and Renaissance Health Care Diagnostic and Treatment Center, has a long standing commitment to serving the needs of the Harlem community. We are very pleased to be in partnership with the City, Governor Paterson, Congressman Rangel, DASNY, the State Department of Health, and North General Hospital's Board to develop a full continuum of health care in this community."
It is anticipated that simultaneous with the cessation of NGH's operations, the Institute for Family Health's FQHC will be opened and operational so that health care services will continue to be available to the Harlem Community throughout this process.
The Institute for Family Health is a federally qualified health center network with 24 practice sites in New York State. The Institute also operates two family medicine residency programs; leads several community health promotion programs focused on the elimination of racial disparities in health outcome; engages in primary care health services research; participates in health policy development at the national, state, and local levels; and is a leader in the use of health information technology to improve public health. In 2009, all Institute centers received the highest recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance as Patient Centered Medical Homes. For more information, visit www.institute2000.org.