LIC Clinic To Close In HHC Restructuring
By Brian M. RaffertyThe New York City Health & Hospitals Corp, taking on the growing burden of the uninsured and undocumented, has been forced to make substantial changes to some services, most through reconfiguring its operations.
Neither of the two Queens hospitals run by HHC – Elmhurst Hospital and Queens Hospital Center – are greatly affected, but some services are being consolidated or tweaked, and a child heath center in Astoria will close down.
Overall, the last three years have seen a cut of $240 million in state aid to HHC with an additional $70 million expected to be lost in the pending state budget and an additional $100 million in coming years. Without major changes, HHC could see expenses outpacing revenue to the tune of $1 billion.
Changes to laundry facilities, the elimination of 300 long term care nursing beds, locally provided dialysis and orthopedic care and consolidation of other specialty clinics will not affect Queens.
A move to send non-emergency lab tests out of the hospital and into the hands of private contractors will reduce costs and increase efficiency according to HHC spokeswoman Pamela McDonnell.
Outsourcing labs will not lead to a delay in care for patients, she said. “On the contrary, the goal of that initiative is to run a more efficient operation to achieve cost savings as well as ensure patients and staff have the lab results they need when they need it.”
The Astoria Child Heath Clinic, at 12-36 31st Ave. in Long Island City, served 1,167 patients in the last fiscal year. This is one of six clinics citywide to be shut down, including four in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx.
“The Astoria Clinic is among the low-volume clinics in the HHC system,” McDonnell said. “HHC is committed to ensuring that patients served by this clinic will continue to receive services. In this case, patients will be directed to a nearby Federally Qualified Health Center.”
With all the changes happening citywide with HHC, perhaps the best news for Queens is that inmates from Rikers Island who need urgent medical care will no longer be transported to Elmhurst Hospital. Currently, inmates get split between Elmhurst Hospital and Bellevue Hospital. Under the new plan, all inmates would now travel to a separate facility. HHC will use the space freed up at Elmhurst and Bellevue to add to its revenue-generating capacity.
Reach Editor Brian M. Rafferty at email@example.com or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 122.