IT TAKES A VILLAGE
HealthAlliance plans to create a full-fledged medical village at its Broadway Campus
What HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley is poised to do at its Broadway hospital campus is unique within New York’s medical community.
Creating a full-fledged medical village at the former Kingston Hospital is some years away, probably at least five.
But HealthAlliance’s plan is a concept that stands alone in a pool of healthcare providers that have recently garnered state funding for expansion.
Of those that applied, HealthAlliance is the only one repurposing a now in-patient facility into an out-patient one in an effort to supply preventive medical services to keep people out of the hospital, company officials say.
HealthAlliance’s Chief Strategist Josh Ratner said recently that the plan remains the only one developing among the state’s medical community that is singularly unique.
Ratner said there are 20 other projects in the works to create medical villages but none of those seek to
create them in entire hospital facilities.
HealthAlliance, which is an affiliate of Westchester Medical Center Health Network, will get millions in state funding to create its medical village, sometimes referred to as a medical mall or healthy village.
“We are the only ones in New York state that applied for repurposing and redeveloping a hospital to serve out-patients in its entirety,” Ratner said during a recent interview. “So what we are talking about is converting an inpatient hospital of today into a medical village of tomorrow.”
Ratner referred to state applications submitted to a program known as the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program, known as DSRIP. The program is focused on Medicaid patients. The $8 billion pool is part of the state Health Department’s Capital Restructuring Financing Program.
“DSRIP’s purpose is to fundamentally restructure the health care delivery system by reinvesting in the Medicaid program, with the primary goal of reducing avoidable hospital use by 25 percent over 5 years,” according to the state’s Health Department website.
For the most part, the medical village will focus on that singular mission as HealthAlliance moves to consolidate all regular hospital services onto the Mary’s Avenue campus, according to David Scarpino, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
“We (HealthAllaince) will collaborate with community providers in a way that treats people before they get sick,” Scarpino said. “We want to keep people out of the hospital.”
Ratner has said that while the state program is geared at the Medicaid and uninsured population, whatever is established as a medical village in Kingston will be available for all.
In the state, other healthcare providers are creating medical villages in pieces of buildings or in structures on hospital campuses.
Bon Secours Charity Health Systems, also an affiliate of Westchester Medical Center Health Network, will use part of a $24.5 million state grant to create a medical village at the Bon Secours Community Hospital campus in Port Jervis, according to Helene Gus, a spokeswoman for the health system.
The health system is also collecting other grants and doing fundraising to expand its facility, Gus said.
The project at Bon Secours, with the medical village included, has a similar focus to that of the one HealthAlliance has outlined.
“The goal is the same,” said Gus, who added that the hospital’s interior will be “reconfigured” to accommodate the medical village.
The company says it will, like HealthAlliance, partner with healthy-living groups and programs.
“This is all part of the ‘medical village’ concept where much-needed care options and healthy lifestyle information will be accessible to area residents in a convenient location,” a company press release says.
“An investment in a healthy community translates into a reduction in preventable hospitalizations, which results in lower health care costs, “sad Mary P. Leahy, chief executive officer of Bon Secours Charity Health System, in the press release.
Scarpino said his company plans to submit its so-called “certificate of need” to the state Health Department for the medical village by the end of this year. The state needs to approve the plan but it has already committed $88.8 million.
The funding will help pay for the medical village transformation as well as an overhaul at HealthAlliance Mary’s Avenue campus where, among other things, a new emergency department is to be built. In all, HealthAlliance plans amount to $133.6 million.
HealthAlliance plans to lease space to, among others, educational groups, medical caregivers, nutrition experts, exercise advocates, acupuncture specialists, yoga instructors, healthy cooking teachers, acupuncture services, prevention advisors, jobtraining services, other community-based activity and, perhaps, fresh produce producers.
The medical village may also contain a “simulation center” where rescue workers and medical personnel can be trained in life-saving techniques using mannequins.
Plans call for the anchor tenant to be the Institute for Family Health.
Ratner said that HealthAlliance, though, does not plan on becoming a profit-making landlord. Ratner described it as a “break-even” endeavor.
“Nobody wants a closed blight on Broadway,” Ratner said. “We are not looking at the medical village as a money-making scenario.”
The company says it has yet to come up with what rents are likely to be.
In its certificate of need application, Scarpino said, HealthAlliance will need to illustrate to the state Department of Health that there is interest from groups in taking up spots at the Broadway building, a 237,000-square-foot structure.
A certificate of need application has already been submitted for the Mary’s Avenue project, a construction expansion that is expected to take about 2 1/2 years to complete after approvals are granted, Scarpino said.
Under the plan, the number of hospital beds will shrink from 300 to 201 due to a declining number of admissions in the past two years, Scarpino said.
It is the plan, Scarpino added, to begin the occupancy of the medical village in a parallel manner, with full occupancy set for five years after approvals.
The medical village would be similar to those set up in buildings by other health care companies such as the fairly new structure off U.S. Route 9W in the town of Ulster run by the CareMount Medical Group.
The difference, Ratner said, would be that HealthAlliance would operate some of the services but many would be standalone providers not connected to the company.
HealthAlliance’s campus on Broadway in Kingston.