New York State Department of Health Announces Launch of Study to Assess and Improve Quality of Health Care in Brooklyn

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 20, 2016) – The New York State Department of Health today announced that Northwell Health, formerly known as the North Shore-LIJ Health System, has been awarded a grant to prepare a feasibility and sustainability study that will identify options to dramatically improve the quality of health care in central and northeastern Brooklyn. Details about the study, including its objectives and deliverables, can be found here.

The study will explore potential management or partnership arrangements with one or more of the hospitals in the affected Brooklyn communities, which are currently served by Brookdale Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Hospital and University Hospital Brooklyn. These collaborations could support redesign of care delivery systems to better meet the needs of community residents.

The five hospitals operate in communities with higher than average rates of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. They also have measurably higher rates of infant mortality, congestive heart failure and alcohol and substance abuse. Many residents of these communities rely on hospital emergency departments for primary care.

"The people of Brooklyn need and deserve an efficient and viable health care system that is responsive to their health care needs," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "This feasibility study will help the State develop a plan for a better system, one that embraces reforms focusing on quality, efficiency and value. We are pleased to be moving forward towards a financially sustainable system of excellent quality care throughout the borough of Brooklyn."

In recent years, the hospitals in these communities have experienced significant financial losses and continue to have operating deficits, with little or no access to capital. The State has been financing these deficits while seeking alternatives to strengthen and protect continued access to care and improve quality. The State has also authorized $700 million in capital funds to support projects consistent with these goals.

The study is expected to be submitted over the next three to four months, and the management teams and boards of trustees at all five hospitals will be full participants in the study. Once completed, the State will evaluate the findings of the study and, to the extent they are consistent with the priorities for improving financial feasibility, access and quality, use them to develop and issue a request for applications from health care providers in Brooklyn for capital projects supported by the $700 million in State capital funds.

Many health care services that were once performed exclusively in hospitals are now delivered more efficiently outside the hospital or at home. While other hospitals in Brooklyn have forged partnerships with other health care systems, the five hospitals in central and northeastern Brooklyn have not and consequently lack resources to adapt in this new health care environment.

One finding that the State expects to see in the feasibility study is the need for a significant increase in the network of ambulatory care services in these communities. An increase in ambulatory care will help reduce unnecessary reliance on ED services and inpatient hospital utilization.

As demonstrated over the years at hospitals that were experiencing financial struggles, Northwell Health has a strong track record of implementing operational efficiencies and programmatic improvements that have benefitted those facilities and, more importantly, the communities they serve. "Given that Northwell's strategic partner in Brooklyn, Maimonides Medical Center, is leading collaborative care efforts in the borough as part of the state's DSRIP initiative, we see this as an opportunity to work with the Department of Health in developing recommendations that could bring stability to Brooklyn's financially distressed hospitals and ensure high-quality, accessible care to the thousands of local residents who rely on them," said Northwell Health President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Dowling.