Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that Alan Aviles, who was tapped to head Elmhurst in November, would be leaving the hospital to become the acting president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corp.Former HHC President Benjamin Chu announced in January his departure to oversee the Southern California region of the Kaiser-Permanente Health System, officials said. Aviles started in his new position Saturday."Alan brings to the position a wealth of experience in health care, government, public advocacy and the non-profit community," Bloomberg said in a statement on Feb. 8. "He is a superb heath care administrator and attorney whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in New York City's public hospital system."As a lawyer, Aviles brought the first successful lawsuit in the nation to challenge discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients.Across the city, the Health and Hospitals Corp. operates 11 acute-care hospitals - including Elmhurst and Queens Hospital - six diagnostic and treatment centers, four long-term nursing care facilities and more than 100 community health care clinics. Aviles, who was replaced at Elmhurst by former Chief Operating Officer Chris Constantino, has been with the Health and Hospitals Corp. since 1997, most recently as the senior vice president of the Queens Health Network and as executive director of Elmhurst Hospital Center. In years past, he held a variety of positions at Elmhurst, where he had a hand in expanding the hospital's ambulatory-care clinics and instituting the cutting-edge electronic patient records program that has come to serve as a model for health care facilities elsewhere."I care deeply about HHC and its mission and I am honored by today's vote of confidence," Aviles said in a statement. Constantino, a 51-year-old Astoria native, worked his way up through the ranks at Elmhurst, where he started as assistant budget director in 1984. He pledged to push forward on the vision of his predecessors to strengthen Elmhurst's work managing chronic diseases such as diabetes.As the chief operating officer for the past eight years, Constantino said he feels ready to assume full leadership of the facility that saw more than 700,000 ambulatory care visits last year."I was basically responsible for day-to day operations anyway, so it's not much of a transition," he said. Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@times
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