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Queens Public Meeting

NYC Health + Hospitals
Annual Public Meeting – Queens
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Report by Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and CEO

MARKING TWO YEARS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

In March, we marked two years since NYC Health + Hospitals admitted our first patient with COVID-19. The second year of fighting the pandemic, and responding to four cycles of COVID, was difficult. Our patients suffered, our families suffered, and we the healers suffered. We remember the lives lost, those who continue to suffer from the impact of this pandemic, and honor the NYC Health + Hospitals health care heroes who have served New Yorkers at every stage of this pandemic.

I began to feel hopeful as we headed into the 2021 end-of-year holiday season — with vaccines and boosters widely available, and new treatment options on the horizon — only to have my hopes dashed by Omicron. Once again, our hospitals filled up with patients needing our help. The demand for our testing and vaccination services reached an all-time high. And so many of us New Yorkers – specially health care workers — got sick and needed to lie under the covers with our sore throats and hacking coughs, worried about our colleagues and teammates left stretched by our absence.

Thankfully, the Omicron wave leveled off and we began to see all the pandemic markers going in the right direction. Our City started to open up and moving to a post pandemic state. But COVID is not going away. We are now seeing a slight uptick in hospitalizations across the City, and some hotspots in other parts of the country and New York State – and we cannot let our defenses down. We continue to prioritize vaccination and booster shots as our best defense. We continue to offer first and second COVID-19 booster shots to New Yorkers over 50 and others at high risk. We will be following the trends very closely and stand ready to meet the next phase of the pandemic with all the protections, resources, innovation and experience to address future challenges and help New Yorkers safely navigate whatever may lie ahead.

Throughout the entire pandemic, NYC Health + Hospitals, in collaboration with our NYC Test & Trace Corps, provided care, treatment, testing, tracing, vaccination, shelter, food and so much more to New Yorkers who needed it most. I would like to highlight some of our most recent efforts and accomplishments in response to the pandemic.

We provided quality and compassionate care for thousands of patients in our hospitals and nursing homes. And our nursing facilities nurtured and protected hundreds of our most vulnerable and elderly.

We provided more than 10.5 million COVID tests at our hospitals, Gotham Health centers, in the homes of New Yorkers, and Test & Trace sites across the five boroughs, and have distributed over 4 million at-home tests to schools.

In January 2021 we administered our first COVID vaccine and by the end of March we celebrated our 100,000 vaccine. Since then, we continued to prioritize vaccination for our employees and our most vulnerable patients at our facilities and in their homes – and have administered more than 1.7 million vaccine doses across the five boroughs.

Each time the vaccines became available to new populations – including small children and teens – our hospitals and Gotham Health centers quickly geared up to reach those patients and invited members of the community to get vaccinated with us.

We opened three COVID-19 Center of Excellence in Bushwick, Brooklyn; Tremont, Bronx; and Elmhurst, Queens – to serve patients with long-term symptoms. The new health centers are located in neighborhoods that were significantly affected by the virus, and are designed to ensure access to the specialized care New Yorkers will need to address long-term respiratory, cognitive and mental health conditions caused by the virus.

Through contact tracing, the Test & Trace Corps team identified 1.7M contacts. We helped 33,000 people isolate at a quarantine hotel and delivered more than 2.2M free meals to those in isolation or quarantine.

Our amazing Test & Trace Corps team also lunched a number of new programs to serve New Yorkers hardest hit by the pandemic, including:

  • Street Health Outreach & Wellness – our SHOW mobile units have offered services to over 119,000 unique New Yorkers, with a focus on people experiencing homelessness. Those services include COVID tests, social worker engagements, medical consultations, and vaccinations.
  • COVID Treatment Outreach or CATCH – to help those at the highest risk of developing serious or severe COVID-19 infections, to ensure life-saving oral antiviral treatments, monoclonal antibody treatment, and other healthcare resources are promptly delivered to those in need.
  • AfterCare to support New Yorkers living with the long-term effects of COVID-19. The program connects Test & Trace clients with ongoing health and social needs to the full range of resources and referrals relating to Long-COVID including NYC Health + Hospitals COVID-19 Centers of Excellence.
  • COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation Guidance Tool to offer personalized guidance to New Yorkers who were exposed to or test positive for COVID-19. In addition to providing appropriate guidance, the tool’s individualized results offer quick connections to critical resources, including isolation hotels, free meal delivery, testing and treatment.

While we have been focused on taking care of New Yorkers, we have not lost sight of the need to take care of our own. We continue to offer our heroic workforce all the resources and support they need to recharge, de-stress and heal through our Helping Healers Heal program. We offer on-site counseling, debriefing support, and thanks to a recent, anonymous $100,000 donation, we will fund new wellness spaces to provide respite and support for health care workers who have served in some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods of New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how necessary New York City’s public health System and its employees truly are. We have proven that there is no challenge we cannot overcome when it is about protecting the health of the most vulnerable New Yorkers under our care. Thanks to our amazing workforce, and their sacrifices and readiness to answer a higher calling over the last year, NYC Health + Hospitals has been there for our patients and all New Yorkers at every step of this pandemic.

QUEENS NEWS & HIGHLIGHTS

Despite the tremendous demand on our health System created by the pandemic, we never lost sight of our goals to expand access to care for more New Yorkers regardless of ability to pay or immigration status, offer the highest quality of care, and advance our values of equity, diversity and inclusion. Here are just a few highlights that reflect our commitment to the health and wellness of the people of this borough.

  • New Leadership – In February 2021, we were fortunate to have amazingly talented individuals take the helm at our two public hospitals in Queens. Helen Arteaga Landaverde, MPH was appointed CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and Neil J. Moore, MBA, MPA, FACHE was appointment CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens. As a former member of the NYC Health + Hospitals Board of Directors, and a long-time resident of Corona, Queens, Helen has been serving this community for more than 20 years. Neil retuned to the City’s public health System after dedicating a decade to various financial and operating roles at NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, Kings County, and Woodhull. In little over one year, they have both proven to be effective, compassionate leaders committed to their staff and patient community.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health COVID-19 Center of Excellence opens in Jackson Heights. We opened our second of three new COVID-19 Centers of Excellence throughout the city. The new community health clinic is helping recovering COVID-19 patients in a community that has suffered so much during this pandemic. As we continue to learn more about the long-lasting health impacts of this pandemic, we are being proactive to create medical homes for New Yorkers. This site will not only provide critical health support to those still recovering from COVID-19, but also provide new opportunities for this community to access high-quality, ongoing primary care.
  • U.S. News & World Report 2021-22 Best Hospitals ranked our two hospitals in Queens as “high performing” for clinical excellence in multiple specialty areas. NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst received high marks for: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Congestive Heart Failure, Heart Attack, Kidney Failure, Orthopedics and Pneumonia. NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens received the recognition for Congestive Heart Failure and Diabetes.
  • The Lown Institute — a leading health care think tank — ranked NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens among the most racially inclusive hospitals nationwide. Four of our hospitals made the national list. The rankings are based on how well the demographics of a hospital’s Medicare patients match the demographics of the hospital’s surrounding communities. This is an important recognition and shows how we are leading the way by being true to our mission. We are proud to be recognized for the great care our public health care system provides, regardless of a person’s race, zip code, immigration status or ability to pay.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens expanded its Orthopedic Department with a new Total Hip and Knee Replacement Center that will better serve and respond to the needs of patients experiencing orthopedic disorders, including the aging community suffering from degenerative joint diseases. The new Center, which consists of a team of 15 diverse providers, aims to restore mobility and quality of life to individuals with hip and knee joints that no longer function properly and cause difficulty in day-to-day activities.
  • Local businessman Hari Hariharan donated $1M to NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens – He had recently received his COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital and was so extremely impressed by the kindness, professionalism, and efficiency of the staff, that he was moved to make this generous donation. The funds will support new diabetes management services and update related equipment, including a wide field camera for the ophthalmology clinic. Mr. Hariharan is the Chairman and CEO of NWI Management LP, an alternative investment adviser.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst received $5.5 million in funding from Queens Borough President (BP) Donovan Richards Jr. to support the construction of a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and also help us expand two operating rooms so our team of extraordinary surgeons can treat more patients, more efficiently. We thank BP Richards and his colleagues for their continued support and advocacy that helps us deliver the high-quality, state-of-the-art care residents of this great borough deserve.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst launched a pet therapy program for patients who are hospitalized for behavioral health disorders, such as major depressive/affective disorders and various diagnoses of schizophrenia. The hospital is partnering with Queens-based Fairview Rehab and Nursing Home to have therapy dogs visit twice-a-month to support their treatment and recovery. Animal-assisted therapy has been proven to significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of mental health issues. Interacting with therapy animals also gives our patients a chance to smile, laugh, and feel loved during a difficult time.
  • We commemorated the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and recognized the essential work of the specialized care teams in our dedicated center of excellence, the WTC Environmental Health Center. We have served more than 13,000 members at our three clinic sites – which includes NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst.

OTHER HEALTH SYSTEM NEWS

Looking back through the last year, I am incredibly proud of the many other new programs and services we were able to advance. This is just a partial list that reflects the commitment to excellence among the compassionate and skilled workforce at NYC Health + Hospitals.

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Thank you for being here tonight and for your support of our essential public health care system.

Now let’s proceed to the main purpose of tonight’s meeting – to hear from you, members of our community. Your input is so important to the future success of NYC Health + Hospitals. We are ready to listen.

I will now turn to Blanche Greenfield to outline the proceeding for tonight’s meeting.

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