Major Improvements Announced for Metropolitan Hospital in East Harlem

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While #BuyLocalEastHarlem was holding its last Holiday Pop-Up Market at Metropolitan Hospital, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced major improvements in the form of $52 million in planned capital investment for NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan.

In a press conference at Metropolitan Hospital this morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today $52 million in capital investment projects to improve NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan’s infrastructure. The projects will be conducted over time, with some scheduled for completion as soon as the spring, while others will require work through late 2021.

“We are proud to have the largest public hospital system in the nation,” said Mayor de Blasio. “NYC Heath + Hospitals/Metropolitan has been a mainstay in this community for decades, and this investment will help the hospital get the upgrades needed to continue serving the community.”

“Metropolitan Hospital is a critical community resource for residents of East Harlem and we are proud to invest in it,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “We are committed to preserving our public hospital system, making it financially sustainable and able to deliver the best healthcare services for all New Yorkers.”

“While $52 million is obviously a significant investment, it’s clear that it is needed as part of our long-term commitment to the hospital,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We want our staff to be able to focus on meeting our patients’ care needs and keeping them healthy, not worrying about roofs and power systems.”

“Our hospital has been an integral part of the East Harlem community since the 1950s,” said Alina Moran, Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan. “Every day, we provide the highest quality of care to our patients. We welcome this level of capital investment that will allow us to upgrade our buildings and make the necessary repairs to our infrastructure.”
The plan calls for repairs and improvements to:

  • Bringing the automatic fire sprinkler infrastructure up to new requirements ($12 million)
  • Replacing patient-accessible windows with new ones featuring polycarbonate glazing for enhanced safety in Behavioral Health units ($13 million)
  • Upgrading the current emergency power system, as required under new mandates ($25 million)
  • Replacing the roof to address ongoing leak problems and eliminate the need for ongoing patching ($1 million)
  • Replacing the unit that directs condensed and cooled water resulting from the building’s usage of steam back to the power plant ($600 thousand)
  • Replacing cooling towers nearing end of life with new ones with the latest technology to ensure greater safety ($400 thousand)

“Metropolitan Hospital is an essential resource for the East Harlem community, as it provides residents from all backgrounds — whether insured or uninsured, with access to quality healthcare. The hospital offers excellent LGBTQ health services and maternal care, both of which they have been nationally recognized for,” said Council Member Diana Ayala. “I am thrilled they are receiving $52 million for capital improvements, as this investment will lead to a viable future in which the hospital can continue serving its core communities.”

“Our public hospitals are a vital lifeline providing essential services in our neighborhoods, and we need to keep investing in them,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “These crucial infrastructure investments will strengthen Metropolitan Hospital and the surrounding neighborhood.”

“From opioid treatment to counseling and inpatient behavioral health services, Metropolitan Hospital is critical to taking care of some our most vulnerable New Yorkers, including those suffering from mental health challenges. It’s heartening to see Health + Hospitals recognize the vital role Metropolitan plays in our city’s healthcare system by making this $52 million capital investment in some of the hospital’s most critical systems. With our public hospitals taking on more of the safety net role in the Five Boroughs each and every day, it’s important that state and local government, as well as Health + Hospitals, continue to invest in these pillars of our city,” said Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Hospitals.

“Many DC37 members work at Metropolitan, and many live nearby. This investment represents an important statement to both staff and community. Upgrading the infrastructure reaffirms a commitment to quality care,” said Henry Garrido, Executive Director, DC 37.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan has recorded both clinical advances and national recognition in recent months, and this capital investment will help the hospital continue delivering those services. To combat the opioid epidemic, the hospital has launched a program for peer advocates to engage patients in the emergency department, is connecting patients through primary care with buprenorphine as medication-assisted treatment, and is launching a program to identify inpatients with opioid use disorder to connect them to care.

The hospital continues to be recognized as a national leader in LGBTQ health care equality, with care offerings through its Pride Health Center including gender-affirming surgery. Its excellence in maternal care is evidenced by recent recognition as a “Baby-Friendly” and “Safe Sleep” champion. And it was the only hospital in New York City to receive an “A” grade twice in 2018 for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group.

Data reported at the health system’s most recent Finance Committee meeting documented the hospital’s progress in moving towards more outpatient care and less inpatient care. In the first quarter of FY 2019, the hospital both increased outpatient visits and decreased inpatient discharges, as compared to the first quarter of FY 2018. Over this time period, the hospital’s case mix—a measurement of the severity of illness—increased, indicating that the hospital’s inpatients had greater need for inpatient stays. Increasing outpatient visits, decreasing inpatient discharges, and increasing case mix index are all directions in which the health system aims to be moving.

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