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NYC Health + Hospitals to invest $82 million in new community health centers as part of system-wide drive towards primary care

Centers are going up in underserved neighborhoods in an effort to expand access to care for more than 50,000 New Yorkers.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

NYC Health + Hospital Elmhurst facility. Credit: Google Street ViewNYC Health + Hospital Elmhurst facility. Credit: Google Street View

NYC Health + Hospitals has announced plans to build three new community-based healthcare centers that will provide comprehensive, ambulatory care services for more than 50,000 children and adults, underscoring previously professed plans from President Mitchell Katz to shift the system's focus to primary care and to expand overall access to care as a means to boost the health of the communities the system serves.

H+H's board of directors has ok'd the signing of three leases, clearing the way for construction to start on three full-service ambulatory care centers: one apiece in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. The new health centers will boast more than 100,000 square feet combined and a total price tag of $82 million, with openings slated for 2021.

The new health centers will include pediatric and adult primary care, women's health, behavioral health, dental services, age-appropriate screening exams, radiology, and optometry. The system is considering including full-service pharmacies and the available services will be refined "through the community engagement process."

According to the system, the centers are going up in underserved neighborhoods in an effort to expand access to care for more than 50,000 New Yorkers. The locations were selected as a result of an analysis of community need as well as the opportunity for growth. The centers are close to public transportation and two sites are part of new complexes that also include affordable and market-rate housing as well as businesses. H+H's more than 70 ambulatory care sites provide more than five million outpatient visits to children and adults annually.

The new health centers are part of a plan to evolve the system's ambulatory care and boost access to primary and specialty care as well as stemming the decline of outpatient visits.

A new strategy will lead the system's more than 70 community-based ambulatory care sites that focuses on: building strong relationships between patients and their primary care clinicians; more flexible appointment scheduling; improving clinic efficiency and cutting wait times to specialty outpatient services; and growing revenue with new billing and coding practices.

"Primary care and the other community-based services that these centers will provide are the foundation of our patient-centered approach and the growth engine of our financial sustainability plan," said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. "It's exciting to design and build new health care facilities from the ground up and in convenient locations that will make it easy for families to access the health care they need without having to leave their neighborhoods."

"With same-day access to all or most of the services patients need under one roof--and near where they live--our patients will miss less time from work and their families," said Theodore Long, MD, MHS, Vice President for Ambulatory Care at NYC Health + Hospitals. "In the traditional model, making follow-up appointments can add time, inconvenience, and frustration to the process. Besides responding to the preferences of our patients--which is most important--this model moves NYC Health + Hospitals toward value-based purchasing through the delivery of all aspects of high-quality care on site."

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
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