Mitchell Katz aims to expand primary care as he takes over as NYC Health + Hospitals CEO

Hospital entance
Mitchell Katz, M.D., started his tenure as NYC Health + Hospitals CEO on Monday. (Image: Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

Mitchell Katz, M.D., got to work for the first time as CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals on Monday, and he has pledged to continue to push the system's focus from hospital care to primary care. 

Mitchell Katz
Mitchell Katz

Katz, a primary care physician himself, followed a similar blueprint as the head of the Los Angeles County Health Agency, where he eliminated a $270 million budget deficit and oversaw the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the region. 

RELATED: Mitchell Katz will leave Los Angeles County Health Agency to head cash-strapped NYC Health + Hospitals

"It's all about providing primary care," Katz told The New York Times. "When you take care of people over time your own involvement with them is healing, and you don't have to do as many tests to get the answer because you know the person." 

RELATED: Invest in primary care, doctors tell legislators 

Katz will take over leadership of the system amid significant financial woes. Health + Hospitals faces a $1.8 billion budget gap in 2020, and Mayor Bill de Blasio has called on the system to turn to outpatient care as a way to stem the flow. 

The system is in the middle of a legal fight to secure $380 million in disproportionate share hospital payments, and recently underwent "operational restructuring," which resulted in job losses.

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, former deputy mayor in charge of hospitals and one-time NYC Health + Hospitals board chair, told the New York Daily News that the systems' financial woes are "really, really dire." 

"If they continue what they are doing and change nothing, they will not survive," Baros-Paoli said. 

RELATED: NYC Health + Hospitals taps former Los Angeles County health IT executive Kevin Lynch as CIO 

But public health experts who watched Katz work in Los Angeles said he has what it takes to succeed, as he's a creative thinker who's likely to bring a new perspective to NYC Health + Hospitals, according to the NYT article.

Sheila Kuehl, chairwoman of the board of supervisors for LA County, told the newspaper that Los Angeles County staff had a "great deal of faith" in Katz, and that he was in touch with what patients need because he remained a practicing physician, something he also plans to do in New York.