Q&A: SUNY Downstate CEO on Hospital Care Update Post-Pandemic

Secondly, I think what we have seen during the pandemic is the problem of patient care. You will see many medical networks moving closer to the patient’s place of residence – looking at distributed networks, trying to get out of the hospital, providing care directly to the patient.

Thirdly, you will see a lot of non-traditional industries and players investing in healthcare. You’re starting to see Amazons, Microsofts getting involved in healthcare. This will continue. They’re going to push traditional health care providers to be much more customer friendly.

Then for us one of the big problems is the simultaneous modernization of several IT systems. We are looking at income cycle systems. We are looking for systems for direct interaction with our patients.

Finally, there is the problem of inequality in health care. If you look back to April 2020, there was an article about how we used duct tape and plastic to isolate our patients. The state, as well as the federal government, are looking into issues related to pay and how we can better support hospitals with a safety net.

What new models are you testing?

We are exploring the home hospital model in partnership with Healthfirst and a third-party home health care provider that is already partnering with other agencies in New York. What you are forgetting is that there are significant barriers to even providing inpatient home care. This other third party found that in the New York submarket, not in Brooklyn, the nurses didn’t want to go to those apartments because they were on the fourth floor. A number of our patients in our community do not have broadband access. If you are going to monitor remotely, you will need to have a reliable internet connection. There are a number of problems, but we are studying them and we believe that there is a need for this for a certain group of the population. Hopefully by the fourth quarter of this year we will be able to provide this service.

There are signs that the interest of resident doctors to work in hospitals is leveling off. How do you attract providers?

This fits in well with the issue of moving care out of the hospital. We will look for providers who do not necessarily want to work in the hospital. We have several employment models and I think this is the key. We are ready to work with groups of doctors. One of the problems with hospital employment has been that doctors want a degree of autonomy. With direct employment in a hospital, this becomes extremely prescriptive. Some of Manhattan’s hospitals want full-time faculty, and people who have historically worked there aren’t all happy with that model. People come to us looking for other options.

With capital funding likely to return to the state budget for fiscal year 2023, what are your top priorities?

My top priority is to prepare us for the next pandemic. Our emergency department is small. We are in the middle of the planning process for the main facility and they believe it is half the size it should be and definitely not enough isolation rooms. We still have open intensive care units – this is a very old model. We have stepped up our obstetrics program, so we are looking to modernize our maternity facilities as well as the neonatal intensive care unit. In addition, there are things behind the walls that also need to be upgraded.

This story was originally published in our sister publication Crain’s New York Business.

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