Long Island Business News
April 2, 2013
North Shore-LIJ Nets $3.8M for Clinic
By Claude Solnik
Garfunkel Wild Managing Partner Robert Wild
The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System has won a $3.8 million grant to operate occupational health clinics serving Nassau and Suffolk, part of a state push to help companies prevent injuries.
The Great Neck-based system won the five-year grant on Monday from the state’s Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention, and will use the money to launch its new Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center.
North Shore-LIJ will staff the new center with health-care providers from a New Hyde Park office and plans to hire a nurse practitioner, part-time social worker, medical assistant and other office personnel.
Stony Brook University Hospital had received the grant for the last 25 years, but didn’t reapply.
North Shore-LIJ has grown its “population health” operations from six to 38 programs in just three years, including programs focused on occupational medicine, epidemiology, research, prevention and wellness.
Dr. Jacqueline Moline, population health chairwoman for North Shore-LIJ, said the grant won’t allow North Shore-LIJ to create a massive new service, but does “provide infrastructure money.”
“It doesn’t mean we can’t see patients who live in New York City,” Moline noted. “But our primary mission is to serve workers in Nassau and Suffolk.”
North Shore-LIJ initially hoped to establish two clinics, one in Nassau and one in Suffolk, but may ultimately choose to operate one 2,500-square-foot site. Stony Brook University Hospital initially operated just a single clinic, but opened a second facility in Plainview several years ago to serve Nassau residents.
The grant is just over half the $7 million that North Shore-LIJ sought, and “we’re grappling with the fact that we have significantly fewer dollars than we expected,” Dr. Moline noted.
“I don’t know if we can sustain two rents,” she said. “We may have to straddle the border.”
When it comes to reimbursement, occupational health services is a tricky form of medicine, since funding comes primarily through workers’ compensation and “workers’ compensation takes a long time,” Moline said, citing payments that can take up to 18 months.
The state grants will let the North Shore-LIJ clinic see patients “without worrying about how they’re going to pay you,” she added. “When you do get the money, you can use those revenues to expand your offerings.”
Moline also noted workers’ compensation reforms that have cut through some of the red tape in recent years. Providers no longer need insurers’ approvals before giving tests costing less than $1,000, for instance, and insurers must render decisions within 30 days for more costly tests.
If winning the grant helps North Shore-LIJ grow its occupational health services, it also brings added costs. North Shore-LIJ must file paperwork with the state and attend four sessions annually in Albany alongside six other state-funded centers.
“Not all grants cover all the costs of programs,” noted Robert Wild, managing partner at Great Neck health-care law firm Garfunkel Wild. “You can get a grant for $1 million and the program costs $1.5 million.”
To make up any shortfalls, North Shore-LIJ hopes to find other revenue sources through occupational medicine. The system already advises unions and companies on everything from workplace injuries to ergonomics, and if the clinical practice takes off, it could be a money-maker, Moline said.
“If we see a lot of patients, we hope businesses will see the value, consult with us and send their employees to see us,” she added. “If we can develop programs to improve the health and well-being of the workforce, we can help companies save money.”