Remarks by Ram Raju, MD
President, NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation
Ms. Kril, like all of our Directors, gives tirelessly as an uncompensated civic servant and contributor. Thank you Ana 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 the borough of Queens, New York.
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 a firm 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, over two hundred and forty thousand people accessed Health and Hospitals Corporation services here in Queens, at our Elmhurst Hospital and Queens Hospital Center facilities.
From Elmhurst to Jackson Heights —
from Astoria to the Rockaways —
— the Health and Hospitals Corporation has been there for the residents of this great borough.
We’ve been there for the city’s workforce which depends on our services disproportionately.
And we’ve been there for the thousands of our employees who work at our Queens Health Network facilities
We’ve been there for the approximately 95,000 uninsured patients who accessed our care in Queens last year.
And I’m here to say tonight that we will absolutely continue to be here for Queens in the future.
And whenever Queens County residents seek care at our facilities, they can do so confident that our operations are stronger than ever. In 2014 Queens Hospital Center received accreditation from the Joint Commission, the hospital industry’s foremost independent regulator and accrediting agency.
But before we proceed with tonight’s meeting, let me quickly mention just a few noteworthy transformational projects underway currently at facilities here in Queens:
- Work will begin in coming months to renovate and expand Elmhurst Hospital’s emergency department. This significant capital improvement to the hospital’s campus is designed to accommodate the influx in patients that Elmhurst has seen since the closure of several other nearby hospitals in recent years. The expansion project will increase Emergency Department volume by improving patient flow and access. Upgrades to facilities and equipment will ensure that the ED remains state-of-the-art. We are grateful to the Mayor, to the City Council, and to Borough President Katz for their support of funding for this project.
- Another exciting development at Elmhurst is it collaboration with our Institute for Medical Simulation & Advanced Learning, to construct a state-of-the-art Simulation Center which provides training programs for nursing, medical and other staff. The SIMS Center consists of two fully operational Intensive Care Unit -level patient rooms. Each has its own observatory and control rooms. And each is fully enabled to video conference, record, export and analyze the educational experience. We are very excited about the impact that this cutting-edge training facility will have on care at Elmhurst.
- Also worthy of note, is that Elmhurst Hospital Center was recently selected to launch the Queens Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Program. The March of Dimes Foundation has awarded a grant to Elmhurst Hospital for implementing programs to decrease premature births.
- Phenomenal work is also being done each day at Queens Hospital Center, including an initiative to implement Care Management protocols in inpatient units. As part of this project QHC will assign RN Care Managers to each inpatient unit. RN Care Managers will be part of the inpatient care team with a specific focus on insuring that patients are scheduled for, and receive, appropriate post discharge care. RN Care Managers will call a patient each day for a month after discharge to insure the patient visits his or her primary care provider. The RN Care Manager will make sure the patient is able to obtain and tolerate their medications, and that he or she receives any other post hospital care necessary.
This initiative is a great example of how the Health and Hospitals Corporation is transforming the health care delivery model to improve patient access to, and compliance with, post hospital care, and to effectively reduce hospital re-admissions.
- Queens Hospital Center has also been selected to pilot a corporate-wide redesign of Adult Emergency Department operations. The patient assessment, triage, treatment and discharge processes will be evaluated and redesigned. In addition, the program will evaluate and reconfigure ED staffing, staff scheduling, and space utilization to improve patient flow and reduce visit cycle time. The goal of this corporate-wide project is to reduce the amount of time patients spend in the ED by approximately 50%.
- I’d also like to note our pride that Queens Hospital Center was named a “Baby-Friendly” hospital by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). QHC received this designation because of the great work it’s doing to improving health outcomes of children by recognizing that breastfeeding offers the best and healthiest start for mothers and babies.
- And, lastly, let me applaud Queens Hospital for the substantial improvements achieved in its patient satisfaction scores.
Like all our patients, our patients in Queens must be put first in every thing we do.
These initiatives, and 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 Queens.
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.