NYC Health + Hospitals/Correctional Health Services and NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst today announced the launch of telehealth services for female patients on Rikers Island, expanding on the telehealth services available at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue for men on Rikers. The telehealth program expansion is expected to reduce patient inconvenience, minimize disruptions in hospital operations, and reduce the demand on the resources of the Department of Correction.
When female patients at Rikers Island need specialty care, they are taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst. Due to security precautions associated with transporting a patient from Rikers to the hospital for specialty care appointments, the trip can take hours and patients must forgo regular programming they receive in jail, such as law library and recreational time. Such obstacles will lead some female patients to refuse an appointment, putting their health in jeopardy.
“We know from our experience with NYC health + Hospitals/Bellevue that telehealth is a good way to improve access to care,” said Patsy Yang, Senior Vice President of NYC Health + Hospitals for Correctional Health Services. “We are delighted to be able to offer the same service to our female patients.”
“Every woman deserves access to a full range of health care services—no matter where she lives,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who recently announced a series of new initiatives to support incarcerated women on Rikers Island and their families. “By providing telehealth services for women on Rikers Island, there will be fewer missed appointments and fewer gaps in health care. This innovative and effective option will help address individual health needs and provide consistency of care for women who are incarcerated.”
Launched in February 2018, the telehealth service at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst currently includes rheumatology, oncology, and hematology services, while other specialties, such as infectious disease and gastroenterology, will be added at a later date. Since the launch, the first four female patients have been seen by NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst doctors via the telehealth system.
“This is an invaluable project, and I think it’s a great idea for medicine,” said Dr. Joseph Lieber, a diagnostician and clinical educator at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst who has been working on the telehealth launch. “The women from Rikers we see are a smaller population than the men from Rikers, who go to NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, but the population is not small in need. These women have a lot of medical issues, and it’s to everyone’s advantage—the patients, the doctors, and the jail—to use telehealth because patients can get a good medical visit more quickly and easily. This technology helps ensure patients can get their ongoing care.”
Correctional Health Services initially rolled out its telehealth program in May 2016 at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, where specialty services continue to be added. Hematology, oncology, and dermatology are the newest additions to service offerings that already include infectious disease, urology, rheumatology, pulmonary, and gastroenterology.
In addition to provider-to-patient encounters, the telehealth service is used for provider-to-provider consultations, which, for example, may facilitate assessments for post-acute care admissions to NYC Health + Hospitals/Coler. Within the jail system itself, telehealth will also be used to ensure timely access to care, including intake assessment of new admissions in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
With over 50,000 admissions per year and an average daily population of approximately 9,000 in twelve jails citywide, Correctional Health Services (CHS) operates one of the nation’s largest correctional health care systems. CHS delivers health care to patients from pre-arraignment through discharge, providing medical and mental health care, substance use treatment, dental care, social work services, discharge planning and re-entry services 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Jail is a critical point of intervention to improve community public health, and we recognize both our opportunity and obligation to cushion the impact of incarceration while addressing health needs to better prepare our patients to leave jail and not return. We are an essential partner in New York City’s criminal justice reform, and we strive to be a smart, nimble multidisciplinary team of 1,500 professionals committed to human rights and social justice.
About NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst
NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst is a major provider of hospital and ambulatory care services in the borough of Queens. The 545-bed hospital is a Level 1 Trauma Center, an Emergency Heart Care Station, and a 911-Receiving Hospital. It is a premiere health care organization for key specialties, including surgery, cardiology, women’s health, pediatrics, rehabilitation medicine, renal services, and mental health services. Last year, the hospital’s robust primary and specialty care practices handled nearly 700,000 ambulatory care visits and its emergency medicine teams responded to more than 130,000 emergency room encounters.
About NYC Health + Hospitals
NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health care system in the nation serving more than a million New Yorkers annually in more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. A robust network of outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers anchors care coordination with the system’s trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and MetroPlus health plan—all supported by 11 essential hospitals. Its diverse workforce of more than 42,000 employees is uniquely focused on empowering New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For more information, visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org and stay connected on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYCHealthSystem or Twitter at @NYCHealthSystem.