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Annual Public Meeting Manhattan
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Remarks by Ram Raju, MD
President, NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation

Good evening and welcome to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s Financial Year 2015 Annual Public Meeting for the Borough of Manhattan.

As President of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, I would like to thank you for joining us tonight and would like introduce;

  • Josephine Bolus, RN, and
  • Emily Youssouf

who are here representing the HHC Board of Directors.

Also on this panel are Salvatore Russo, General Counsel and moderator for the evening, and Patricia Lockhart, Secretary to the Corporation.

On behalf of the board I would like to extend our thanks to The Health and Hospital Corporation’s Manhattan facility leadership, Senior Vice Presidents Antonio Martin and Denise Soares and Executive Directors; Steven Alexander, Anthony Rajkumar, Robert Hughes and Martha Sullivan and their staff for providing exemplary service to the Corporation and the patients we serve. Thank you for being here this evening and for all you do to make the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation a better organization.

And to all of you here this evening, thank you for attending the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation’s Financial Year 2015 Annual Public Meeting for Manhattan.

As President and CEO of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, I am glad to welcome you to tonight’s meeting. The Board and I deeply appreciate that you have taken time out of your busy lives to attend.

By showing up this evening, and at countless other meetings and events throughout the year, you demonstrate a level of commitment to New York City’s public hospital system that makes it the nation’s largest and strongest. One of the ways our City is unique is that New Yorkers have historically recognized the need for a public hospital system, because we understand that public hospitals are essential to keeping the City healthy and safe.

One need look no further than last October’s Ebola scare to illustrate this point. When the City was threatened, the Health and Hospitals Corporation was confident, ready, and prepared. We partnered with the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the State to step forward and safeguard the health of every New Yorker. And that’s exactly what we did.

The patient returned to good health.

The City was protected.

And the threat of epidemic and panic, gave way to public understanding that forethought, training, and planning by public health officials had proven entirely effective.

That incident is but one recent example of why New Yorkers have historically supported a strong public hospitals system — — a system that combines top quality care with a commitment to serve every New Yorker in need.

The tremendous ties our hospitals, diagnostic treatment centers and clinics have to the communities we serve across the city, remains the foundation of the Health and Hospitals Corporation’s strength, and its endurance.

However, the fact is, the Health and Hospital Corporation needs your support more than ever before.

That is because today’s healthcare landscape is undergoing great change. And these changes pose challenges to public hospitals systems across the country, and here in New York.

For example, the Affordable Care Act has made insurance available for many people who now for the first time, have options to seek care outside our system. Traditional sources or federal funding for “safety net” hospitals are slowly being reduced as a result.

At the same time major reforms to Medicare and Medicaid are driving big changes in the way we deliver health care to our patients, and in the way we are reimbursed by 3d party payers for services provided to patients.

In order to survive, and to continue serving the nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers who seek our care each year, The Health and Hospitals Corporation is striving each and every day to meet these challenges.

We are committed to securing our essential role as New York City’s Public Hospitals system, and to ensuring that we continue fulfilling our mission of providing health care to all.

Last month we announced Vision 2020. This is an ambitious agenda which will position the Corporation more competitively, by building on transformational work done over the past two decades that produced outstanding quality and safety achievements.

Vision 2020 sets strategic priorities for achieving improved levels of patient satisfaction at each of our facilities. Vision 2020 also calls for expanding access to care, building our patient base, and securing the system’s financial stability all within the next 5 years.

Meeting each of these goals is necessary for the public hospital system to continue providing highest quality, cost competitive, culturally competent, and geographically convenient health care services to New Yorkers.

In 2014, approximately 316,000 patients accessed New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation services at our Manhattan hospitals, diagnostic treatment centers and long term care facilities.

From Harlem to downtown —
from Roosevelt Island to the Lower East Side—

— The public hospital system has been here for Manhattan for over 250 years.

We have been here for the city’s workforce which depends on our services disproportionately.

And we’ve been here for the thousands and thousands of our employees who work at facilities across the city.

We’ve been here for the approximately 118,000 uninsured patients who accessed our care in Manhattan last year.

And I’m here to say tonight that we will absolutely continue to be here for Manhattan in the future.

New Yorkers seeking care at our Manhattan facilities can do so with confidence that our operations are stronger than

ever —
In 2014 —
— Bellevue Hospital Center,
— Harlem Hospital,
— Coler Rehabilitation Nursing Care Center
— and
— Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility — were each awarded certification by the Joint Commission, the nation’s foremost standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

But before we proceed with tonight’s meeting, let me quickly mention a few noteworthy transformational projects underway at facilities here in Manhattan:

  • Here at Gouverneur Health, construction has concluded on a $250 million major modernization program that includes the new auditorium we are using tonight. This extraordinary facility was designed to be an important resource for the community. It reflects the Health and Hospitals Corporation’s commitment to playing an active and vibrant role as a key civic institution here on the historic Lower East Side. We are proud to be partner with you to promote wellness, and to address health needs in this community.
    One of those needs is for sub-acute and long term care services.
    Gouverneur Health’s modernization program is designed to address this, by adding two additional floors with 80 new beds. This brings the total number of beds in Gouverneur’s Skilled Nursing Facility to 295.
    Gouverneur’s multilingual, nurturing staff is committed to integrity, responsibility and excellent care, while emphasizing concern for the individual’s physical, psychological, spiritual and social quality of life. This program reflects the ethnic diversity of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and has had a reputation of excellence for more than 30 years.
    The modernization program ensures that Gouverneur Health will continue to be an integral part of the Lower East Side, serving as a community resource and healthcare provider for our most vulnerable residents.
  • Moving north, we are very proud that Bellevue Hospital has New York State’s only Children’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (Children’s CPEP). This year Bellevue will continue to expand inpatient and outpatient mental health services for children and teens in crisis to help them live a healthy life.
  • And of course, the entire nation watched last October as Bellevue successfully cured a patient confirmed for infection with Ebola. During the subsequent days, the Ebola Response Team coped with an unprecedented challenge of caring for a patient while successfully preventing transmission to any of the staff or other patients. Since that time, Bellevue’s Ebola Response Team has successfully managed other patients who showed symptoms, some of whom required interventions including dialysis and intubation with mechanical ventilation. No one else has been diagnosed with Ebola. All of these patients have been successfully cured without adverse events. Bellevue Hospital staff continues to train and prepare and stand ready to treat a patient with Ebola or other infectious diseases.
  • We are looking forward to next month when Harlem Hospital Center will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of a $6.3 million renovation and relocation of the James E. McIntosh Department of Dentistry. With annual visits exceeding 21,000, the Dental clinic has one of the Department of Ambulatory Care Services’ highest volumes of patient visits. This major capital project was accomplished entirely with grant funding, including a $1.8 million allocation from New York Council Member Inez E. Dickens for equipment and $300,000 from the Friends of Harlem Hospital Center.
  • I’d like to mention another of Harlem Hospital Center’s initiatives, because it’s an example of countless partnerships that our networks have fostered to achieve better health outcomes in communities across Manhattan. The Harlem Hospital Center Council of Women’s Chiefs promote health and wellness in targeted community outreach events based on National Healthcare Monthly Observances. Recent events have focused on women’s heart health, colon cancer and safer sexual practices. Senior clinical leadership from Harlem Hospital work side by side with outreach workers at these events, to engage community members and bring them into the continuum of care.
  • We are also very proud that in 2014 Metropolitan Hospital Center opened the Corporation’s first comprehensive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Health Center. The health center provides primary, preventive and specialty care by a team of professionals who are specially trained to manage the health care needs of the LGBT community. Metropolitan is designated as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign and has earned top marks for its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families.
  • Another positive development at Metropolitan is the work being done to convert its existing four-bed units into two-bed units. This change will provide our patients with more comfortable, semi-private accommodations. The two bed units will enhance privacy and reduce noise and distractions, and will be a lot more welcoming to the patient’s family and visitors. This change will greatly enhance patient experience during hospitalization, and will further our paramount 2020 Vision objective.
  • I also want to bring your attention to our two excellent Manhattan long term care facilities. Both Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center and Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility are participating in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Nursing Home Quality Care Collaborative. This is a targeted effort to enhance quality and performance improvement practices and to eliminate healthcare-acquired conditions. Both goals are directly linked to improving resident satisfaction. The Quality Care Collaborative studies nursing home best practices as a means to improve performance levels for resident safety, clinical outcomes, prevention, culture, staffing, and finance.
  • Finally, I’d like to mention that two years after Superstorm Sandy, in December, the Health and Hospitals Corporation reached a $1.7 billion agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A large portion of the total settlement amount will be used here in Manhattan for restoration and mitigation work at Bellevue, Metropolitan and Coler Rehabilitation Center.

These initiatives, and many others we won’t have time to mention tonight, are indicative of progress and innovation happening every day at the Health and Hospitals Corporation’s facilities in Manhattan. We will never stop seeking to improve our operations in order to raise the quality care we already provide, to an even higher level.

We are focused as never before on ensuring that our patient’s experience of our care is our overarching priority in everything we do.

Better patient experience will lead to better patient retention, to a broader patient base, and to increased market share, all of which will result in financial sustainability.

These initiatives reflect our commitment to remain a strong, viable partner with the communities of this borough as we endeavor together to achieve population health and wellness for all New Yorkers.

I’m glad to have the opportunity tonight to bring them to your attention.

Thank you. I feel privileged to lead this Corporation and to be here this evening with all of you.