Crain’s Health Pulse
May 13, 2016
As Northwell Eyes Partnerships, Brooklyn Hospitals Speak Out
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and several Brooklyn politicians made their way to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Flatbush yesterday, but they did little talking. Mostly, they took notes as they listened to staff at the hospital and affiliated facilities speak about their commitment to serving the community and its particular needs.
It was the first of several such meetings that will be held as Northwell Health explores partnerships with five struggling Brooklyn hospitals: Brookdale, Kingsbrook, Interfaith Medical Center, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and University Hospital Brooklyn.
In April, DOH announced it had awarded Northwell a grant to conduct a feasibility study for the plan, which is expected to be submitted this summer. The hospitals stand to receive funding for capital projects from a pool of $700 million DOH set aside in last year’s budget to overhaul health care in Brooklyn.
Speakers at yesterday’s meeting offered a range of recommendations for what the state should invest in to improve care at Kingsbrook, from culturally-competent mental health services to extended hours at local Brightpoint Health clinics that provide primary care. But it was clear their biggest priority was convincing the commissioner that the hospital and its staff deserve to be preserved.
“We are a diverse workforce that is culturally competent,” said Vivienne Phillips, a registered nurse and the NYSNA chair at Kingsbrook. “We have developed relationships with the community. We’re a valuable source of information to the administration and viewed as partners in delivering the best care possible.”
Dr. Edward Smith, chief of ophthalmology at Kingsbrook, assured the commissioner that the quality of care at the hospital was top notch. But he said his more affluent patients in Park Slope were sometimes skeptical because of the look and location of the facility.
“It’s not uncommon for me to get some resistance to coming here because there's not some big shiny building, but I bring all my patients here to be operated on,” he said.
People spoke of the connections Kingsbrook has formed with the community, telling anecdotes about how local patients who were homeless would continue to travel to the hospital even after they were transferred to shelters in the Bronx because they trusted the care they received there.
“All these things you can't build with $700 million,” said Gail Holtz, senior director of transitional care at Kingsbrook. “You can only enhance them.”