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REPORT TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS – December 2022

Mitchell H. Katz, MD
NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS
PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
REPORT TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
December 15, 2022

RESPIRATORY ILLNESS ON THE RISE

Respiratory viruses are on the rise in NYC and across the country. Influenza is the predominant respiratory illness we are seeing among our pediatric and adult patients. We are also seeing a steady increase in positive COVID -19 tests among our adult patients, but not an accompanying increase in hospitalizations due to severe COVID-19.    Fortunately, we are not seeing a large number of RSV cases among our adult patients and pediatric RSV cases peaked in mid-November and have been on a gradual decline since then.  

As we enter the holiday season, we are also focused on helping New Yorkers to gather safely. We cannot overemphasize the importance of hand hygiene, social distancing and facemasks. NYC issued a health advisory urging the public to mask-up when indoors and in crowded outdoor setting. This is especially important for people who are – or are meeting – those who are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19, RSV, or the flu, such as those age 65 and older and people who are immunocompromised.

Everyone ages six months or older should get their COVID-19 primary series if they have not already and should get the updated bivalent COVID-19 booster when eligible. We recommend an annual flu shot for everyone 6 months and older. NYC Heath + Hospitals facilities and our NYC Test & Treat teams continue to make vaccinations for COVID-19 and flu widely available to children and adults in every borough. It is safe to get both at the same time.

We also want New Yorkers to get back to testing for COVID-19 before getting together during the holidays, and to seek out treatment quickly if they test positive. Our Virtual ExpressCare team is available 24/7 to ensure anyone who tests positive can consult with a doctor quickly and get medication on the same day.

We want everyone to have a happy and – most of all – healthy holiday season.

PROTECTING HOMELESS NEW YORKERS
WITH SEVERE AND UNTREATED MENTAL ILLNESS

Mayor Eric Adams announced a comprehensive new plan to do more to assist unsheltered people with serious mental illness. The plan is focused on helping New Yorkers with untreated psychiatric disorders who pose a risk of harm to themselves or to the public. This is in line with guidance issued by the Office of Mental Health in February 2022 and ensures we no longer look away from someone who may be in a situation that compromises their physical health because their mental illness does not allow them to fully comprehend their situation. This is a small and defined group of people among the homeless population of people with mental illness – many of whom often accept help when offered.  The Mayor’s plan focuses on the City’s obligation to people who need help and calls on outreach workers to take stronger actions including involuntary assistance and more intensive engagement. Health systems across the City, including NYC Health + Hospitals, will be partners in Mayor’s new plan to help those in need to find their way to treatment and recovery. The plan also includes enhanced training for first responders, an aggressive State advocacy agenda, and a new hotline for NYPD officers to receive real-time clinical advice from expert NYC Health + Hospitals clinicians. As the largest provider of behavioral health care in New York City, we are proud of our role in the City’s behavioral health continuum of care. Our System has implemented a host of new models in behavioral health, including our voluntary inpatient unit at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. The Mayor’s plan will bring new focus to behavioral health and our critical role in it.

A MONTH OF RECOGNITIONS AND AWARDS

Nursing Excellence – We recognized more than 30 nurses from across our health System at our annual Nursing Excellence Award ceremony. As usual, this was an impressive group of nurses from diverse backgrounds and with diverse expertise who exemplify the best of the professions. They are mentors, teachers, give to the community and most importantly, they are on the frontlines providing the compassionate, culturally competent and high-quality care our patients and families deserve. What I found most telling about this awards program was the hundreds of nurses in our System who were nominated by their colleagues in recognition of their achievements and commitment to our patients.

A special award was presented to Board Member and former NYC Health + Hospitals nurse, Ms. Barbara A. Lowe, who received the Josephine Bolus Nursing Champion Award, our health System’s highest honor for supporters of nurses and the nursing profession named after our beloved former Board Member.

Top Teaching Hospital – NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx received the Top Teaching Hospital designation from The Leapfrog Group, one of only 58 hospitals nationwide to earn the award this year. The Top Teaching Hospital award was based on the hospital’s high marks across various metrics, including strong safety and outcomes results for high risk surgeries and procedures, as well as measures to prevent medical and prescribing errors.

“A” for Safety –NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens and NYC Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx earned an ‘A’ Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade for fall 2022. This national distinction recognized the two hospital’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error in the hospital. Queens Hospital is the only hospital in the borough of Queens to receive an “A,” and North Central Bronx Hospital is the only hospital in the Bronx to receive an “A.”

Prestigious Pathway to Excellence Nursing Award – NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health joined a premier group of health care organizations that have received the prestigious Pathway to Excellence designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The Pathway designation is a globally recognized credential that highlights NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health’s commitment to creating a healthy work environment where nurses feel empowered and valued. ANCC uses a rigorous three-year process to evaluate continuous improvement and recognizes health care organizations where nurses are engaged and involved – all of these facets result in improved patient outcomes, better safety, higher job satisfaction, and reduced turnover. NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health joins Kings County Hospital as the only hospitals in Brooklyn, and only the third health care facility in New York City to join a select group of organizations that have earned this prestigious recognition.

Excellence in Reducing Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke Among New Yorkers – All 11 hospitals in our health System and 7 of our Gotham Health sites were recognized by the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association for their work in managing hypertension, or high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.  Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but with timely diagnosis, research-based treatment and education, this condition can be managed. People are often surprised to learn they have high blood pressure because they do not feel sick. That is why it is so important that our hospitals and primary care teams are so committed to providing our patients with the tools they need to achieve and sustain blood pressure control.

NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS/GOTHAM HEALTH QUALITY RECOGNITION  

Gotham Health – the NYC Health + Hospitals’ network of Federally Qualified Health Centers with sites in every borough — last week completed a successful survey by the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration.  The 3-day survey consisted of meeting 20 program requirements to achieve health equity, improve public health, ensure excellence in providing high quality preventive, primary and behavioral health care to patients regardless of ability to pay. Our dedicated Gotham Health team achieved an impressive overall survey rating of 96% – a great reflection of their dedication and commitment to providing the best, culturally responsive quality care to our patients and the communities we serve. The successful survey earned our Gotham Health team these quality recognition badges.

NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS SOUTH BROOKLYN HEALTH RECEIVES $1 MILLION FROM ASSEMBLY MEMBER COLTON TO EXPAND CARDIAC SERVICES

NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health received $1 million from New York State Assemblyman William Colton to replace six echocardiogram machines and support the expansion of cardiac services. South Brooklyn Health is now a New York State-certified Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Center, so they can provide specialized cardiac services to all South Brooklyn residents close to home. With the acquisition of this new equipment, our South Brooklyn Health team will be able to optimally manage our patients’ health and get them on the road to recovery. We are thankful to Assemblyman Colton for this generous funding and his continued support.

EXTERNAL AND COMMUNITY AFFAIRS UPDATE

Federal – After the Federal FY-2022 ended in September, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution extending Federal government funding at existing levels through December 16, to allow more time to negotiate a FY-2023 spending package. Congress must either agree on a spending package before December 16, 2022 or pass another Continuing Resolution to buy a little more time for negotiations. It is likely that a Continuing Resolution will be passed this week extending the deadline to December 23, 2022 to allow for additional negotiating time. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced their decisions to step down from House Democratic leadership in the next Congress. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, whose Brooklyn district includes NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health and NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull, will be the House Democratic Leader for the 118th Congress. Representative Jeffries has been a constant supporter of our health System, and we are delighted by his selection. We have already met with his team and look forward to continuing our partnership.

The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency was extended through January 2023.

State – As the year comes to an end, we are awaiting the Governor’s actions on over 200 bills that passed both houses of the Legislature in the spring. The State Legislature will begin its next session on January 4, 2023 and the Governor’s State of the State address is on January 10, 2023. Although we are sad to see Dr. Mary Bassett leave her position as the Commissioner of the State Department of Health, we will continue to work with the Governor and the next Commissioner to ensure we are addressing health equity of all New Yorkers. 

City – We participated in a City Council Hearing regarding nurse staffing and retention. Our Chief Nurse Executive Natalia Cineas represented NYC Health + Hospitals and provided testimony. City Council Member Julie Menin introduced legislation to establish an Office of Healthcare Accountability in New York City. The new Office would be responsible for auditing City expenditures on health care costs, and sharing information publicly regarding the pricing practices for hospital systems in NYC, including the prices charged for hospital procedures disaggregated by hospital. We will be working with many of our partners to help refine this bill. We have submitted capital and expense new needs for FY-24 to City OMB for consideration in January Plan.

CONTRACTS

Mayor Adams issued an Emergency Executive Order on October 7, 2022, allowing the City to expedite its procurement processes to timely meet the needs of the continued influx of asylum seekers.  NYC Health + Hospitals has been an integral part of the City’s response in providing support for the arriving immigrants and I have authorized limited emergency contracting to support such efforts. I have authorized the following new contract actions:

NEWS AROUND THE HEALTH SYSTEM