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Mitchell H. Katz, MD
April 28, 2022


New York City is experiencing a slight increase in cases and transmission rates, but our COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low – and some of our hospitals even had their first days with zero cases. We concluded our hotel program this month, which helped 33,000 guests to safely isolate throughout the pandemic, and ended universal contact tracing. We will continue to operate the hotline, 212-COVID19, to connect New Yorkers to resources and the virtual express care for life saving treatments.

While we hope the worst of this pandemic will soon be over – we continue our focus on testing, vaccination and treatment for COVID-19 and Long COVID.

Our NYC Test & Trace Corps team is distributing 6.3 million at-home tests this month and we have collaborated with 226 houses of worship and faith-based groups in New York City to further expand our network of at-home test distribution locations during the height of the religious holiday season. As Mayor Adams said, New York’s churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and religious cultural centers are pillars of their communities, and we are very grateful to them for leading the fight against COVID-19 by providing testing to their members.

We want New Yorkers who test positive for COVID-19, including while using an at home test, to call our 212-COVID19 hotline to be immediately connected to a doctor who can prescribe Paxlovid and arrange to have this lifesaving treatment delivered to their home.

We also launched a modest ethnic and social media advertising campaign in multiple-languages to remind New Yorkers – particularly in communities with low vaccination rates — that NYC Health + Hospitals is still the place to get a free COVID-19 vaccine, first booster and second booster shot.


This month, we launched a training program that will provide psychiatrists with the additional support, mentorship, and education they need to function effectively in public health settings. In collaboration with NYU, the Public Psychiatry Leadership program will help early career psychiatrists prepare for leadership roles in the public health system and other public settings that serve New Yorkers with complex mental health and substance use needs. We are currently seeking applications from practicing psychiatrists who are committed to improving and transforming the delivery of behavioral health services in New York City. The new program will expand the success of a collaboration that began in 2008 between NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and NYU that have since helped propel the careers of more than 50 psychiatrists who have taken on leadership positions in our health system and in other city and state-level organizations. Applications are due May 18, 2022 and the program begins July 2022. Eligible psychiatrists can apply here.


We were so pleased to announce the elimination of the six-month residency eligibility requirement for our health system’s NYC Care program, which guarantees low-cost and no-cost services to New Yorkers who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance. New Yorkers are New Yorkers from the first day they move here, and we want to extend their right to affordable, quality health care from day one. With more than 110,000 members, NYC Care has become a national health care model that guarantees low and no-cost primary and specialty care services at the public health system’s hospitals and health centers across all five boroughs. New York City believes that health care is a human right, and we want anyone who cannot afford or is ineligible for insurance to get the care they deserve. With NYC Care, we promise new members a primary care appointment within two weeks and access to specialty care if needed.


Four hospitals in our health system have been ranked among the “50 Most Racially Inclusive Hospitals in America” by the 2021 Lown Institute Hospitals Index for Social Responsibility. Metropolitan, Harlem, Queens, and Lincoln Hospitals received the high marks for how well they serve people of color in their surrounding communities. More than 2,800 hospitals were evaluated for this report. Metropolitan and Harlem hospitals ranked among the top ten – and Metropolitan ranked as the #1 most racially inclusive hospital in New York State. Queens and Lincoln hospitals ranked #14 and #44 in the country, respectively. To create the rankings, the Institute used Medicare claims from 2020 to assess how well the demographics of a hospital’s Medicare patients match the demographics of the hospital’s surrounding communities. No one should have to leave their neighborhood and travel for an extended period of time in order to get high-quality, comprehensive healthcare. That’s why our hospitals, Gotham Health centers, and post-acute/long-term care facilities are close to home for many New Yorkers. 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 serves the most linguistically diverse city in the world, and nearly one in three patients is limited English proficient. Meaningful access to care starts with effective communication in our patients’ language. In recognition of NYC Immigrant Heritage Week, we announced that limited English proficient (LEP) patients can now access MyChart in Simplified Chinese. The patient portal is already available in Arabic, French, and Spanish. These four languages make up 80 percent of the over one million interpretation requests our health system received in FY2021. We plan to include more languages to the patient portal later this year. MyChart is a free, convenient, and secure tool that patients can use to manage their health information online. At NYC Health + Hospitals, we believe that everyone has the right to high-quality, comprehensive health care services regardless of where they were born or what language they speak. I’m proud of the work we have done and will continue to do to innovate and lead in providing culturally and linguistically responsive healthcare services.


Our work to improve the health of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers has garnered us national recognition. For the 6th time, 18 of our patient care facilities across all five boroughs received the “LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader” designation from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for our commitment to providing expert, culturally-competent care to LGBTQ+ patients. NYC Health + Hospitals is unquestionably at the forefront of ensuring equitable access to high-quality, comprehensive care for LGBTQ+ patients, specially through our six Pride Health Centers and Gender Affirming Integrated Services Practice in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Treating everyone with respect and dignity is the foundation of our success and the impetus for so much of what we do to serve New Yorkers and reduce the inequities in health care.


City – NYC Health + Hospitals recently participated in two City Council hearings. One on the topic of the Impact of COVID on Immigrant New Yorkers, and the other about City and State Coordination in the Provision of Mental Health Services. Executive Budget hearings begin next week. The NYC Health + Hospitals Executive Budget Hearing is scheduled for May 18th at 10am. We look forward to continuing our work with Council and OMB as the budget details develop.

State – The New York State Department of Health released its proposed 1115 waiver amendment request this month. The State is requesting $13.5 billion over five years to fund the new 1115 Waiver amendment that addresses the health disparities and systemic health care delivery issues that have been both highlighted and intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The waiver is structured around goals that align with our health system’s focus on advancing value-based payment care delivery models for special populations, including individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals leaving City or State correctional systems, and children in the foster care system and families receiving City prevention services. We are encouraged by the State’s ongoing commitment to advancing health equity across Medicaid populations and expanding efforts in areas including housing supports and social services. We look forward to working with them to effectuate these goals of health care transformation and are grateful for their partnership.

Federal – We are working with our Representatives and Senators on earmarks requests for consideration in the FY 23 Appropriation Bills. We continue to be incredibly grateful for their support and partnership.