“Building Brooklyn’s Future”
The Brooklyn Hospital Center’s Plan to Continue Meeting Community Healthcare Needs
The Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBHC) is Brooklyn’s first hospital and has been keeping residents healthy for the past 170 years and counting. To continue its tradition of providing residents with high-quality care, TBHC needs access to capital that will allow it to modernize its hospital campus, including an updated emergency department and an expansion of community-based healthcare centers.
In 2016, New York State authorized $165 million to be spent on the transformation of healthcare facilities across New York State. New York State Department of Health is administering the funds through the Health Care Facility Transformation Program to support key capital projects. The purpose of the program’s grants is to strengthen and protect continued access to healthcare services in communities throughout New York State, which is part of an overall transformation plan intended to create a financially sustainable system of care.
In September, TBHC submitted a request for $36 million regarding four critical capital projects to the New York State Health Department for a Health Care Facility Transformation Program grant. The grant would be used to support four key capital projects, including the modernization of the emergency department and expansion of outpatient health centers.
The hospital is the sole and essential safety-net provider of inpatient and outpatient healthcare for approximately 1 million residents living in Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods, which are experiencing substantial growth. Many of these communities are significantly affected by poverty and poor health status. Part of the hospital’s primary service area is federally designated as a Medically Underserved Area (MUA), and as many as one-third of residents do not have a Primary Care Physician.
Approximately 80% of the hospital’s patients are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or both. Brooklyn’s large Medicaid population and poor health outcomes place a large burden on the borough’s healthcare system, forcing hospitals into bankruptcy or even closure.
TBHC has shown financial stewardship as an independent community hospital, while other Brooklyn providers cannot survive without enormous State subsidies. Over the last several years, TBHC has received no capital awards while other Brooklyn hospitals have received capital awards over $100 million, and yet still require hundreds more in the coming years to cover operating losses.
TBHC stands out as one of the few Brooklyn hospitals to succeed in sustaining a positive operating performance over the past decade. Based on a slight operating margin, TBHC has not met the financial criteria set by the State to be eligible for funds made available to other Brooklyn hospitals deemed to be financially distressed. The hospital has been overlooked and not awarded critical funds for capital support, which it needs for reinvesting in the hospital campus and expansion of services into the community. TBHC also lacks the capital to be able to obtain more debt to invest in its own future. This is an unfair paradigm for the hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents who receive their care from TBHC.
NATIONAL QUALITY, BROOKLYN ADDRESS
TBHC, including its dedicated doctors, nurses, and staff, have received numerous quality awards from national governing organizations that promote standards of care, including:
- U.S. News & World Report High Performing Hospital in Heart Failure (2016-2017)
- American College of Radiology Breast Imaging Center of Excellence (2016 – ongoing)
- American Heart Association Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for Stroke Care (2012 – 2016)
- American Heart Association Silver Plus Award for Heart Failure Care (2016)
TBHC is committed to remaining Brooklyn’s longest-standing community hospital. ‘Partnership, not ownership’ is how it defines itself. It has formed a clinical affiliation with Mount Sinai Health System, which has helped the hospital target and improve health disparities in the communities it serves. TBHC is working together with Mount Sinai on a heart center, women and children’s services, as well as ensuring care coordination for complex conditions. The clinical partnership has resulted in significant advantages for residents, as it provides access to world class care, right in Brooklyn. It also allows TBHC to remain a critical provider of local, quality care for Brooklyn as a standalone organization. According to a recent analysis, the trend of hospital mergers has reduced competition and raised the cost of care without necessarily improving quality.
CHALLENGES FACED BY BROOKLYN HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS
The challenges facing Brooklyn hospitals have been well-documented and require urgent action. The State has authorized $700 million to be spent on the transformation of health care facilities in Brooklyn focused on four hospitals — Brookdale, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights. Northwell Ventures, which is affiliated with Northwell Health, recently released a report that includes a rescue plan for Brooklyn’s distressed community hospitals to merge into one regional health system. It shows that the four hospitals will require $310 million in operating subsidies from the State in fiscal 2017, and will have combined losses of $405 million by fiscal 2021.
“I applaud many of the report’s 37 recommendations, especially developing a strong system of preventive care and outpatient services for Brooklyn. These are shared goals and can only benefit our communities,” said Gary G. Terrinoni President and CEO of TBHC. “However, I am concerned that an exclusive focus on these four providers will negatively affect the market and could result in a shifting of fiscal distress. TBHC is simply asking for its fair share. It also seems logical that existing capacity and potential for collaboration be thoroughly considered prior to the State making decisions on such large investments in Brooklyn. TBHC seeks to be an active partner in this transformation and participate in restructuring Brooklyn healthcare.”
CALL TO ACTION
TBHC is encouraging all residents and community leaders to contact elected officials to ask for their support for its Health Care Facility Transformation Program grant, and to allow TBHC to be part of discussions on the larger transformation of Brooklyn’s healthcare, including access to a portion of the $700 million in funds being made available.
The time is now to call your elected officials.
To reach the Governor’s Office, call (518) 474-8390.
To reach the New York State Senate, call (518) 455-2800, and ask for your State Senator.
To reach the New York State Assembly, call (518) 455-4100, and ask for your Assemblymember.
Tell them that TBHC requires their support to remain in the community to provide quality care for decades to come. Together, everyone can make a difference to keep Brooklyn healthy.