Micro-hospitals, freestanding ERs could save New York healthcare

New York

More organizations are opening free-standing emergency departments and no-frills “micro-hospitals” for their convenience and accessibility. Those models may also fix New York’s troubled hospital system, says the head of the New York State Health Foundation.

Nearly 30 of the Empire State’s hospitals appear on the State Department of Health’s watch list for providers in major financial jeopardy, writes David Sandman, president and CEO of the New York State Health Foundation, in a column for the Huffington Post.

The crisis has been evident for years, Sandman writes, since he served as executive director for the Commission on Health Care Facilities a decade ago. At the time, the commission’s findings called for lower-cost alternatives to full-service hospitals, of the kind pioneered by free-standing ERs and micro-hospitals.

Micro-hospitals, which have a small number of inpatient beds for observation and short-stays, haven’t made their way to New York yet. But free-standing ERs are making inroads in the state, especially in New York City, according to the column. Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx opened the state’s first one in 2013, and Lenox Health Greenwich Village opened the following year. Both providers arrived on the scene after the closure of Westchester Square Hospital in the Bronx and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan.

Hospitals are community institutions, for the most part, creating a sense of loyalty among their patient populations. But as the healthcare system now emphasizes outpatient and preventive care, it makes the traditional model far less sustainable, according to Sandman.

“These hybrid models of care offer a good middle ground that can meet the needs of their patients and residents in a way that’s more prudent and sustainable,” he writes.

- here’s the column