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Health care law creates uncertainty for NYHQ

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New York Hospital Queens made progress in providing patients with new health care options in 2009 and will continue to do so with a series of major developments in 2010, but the outlook for the facility’s long-term future is less bullish, its president and CEO said Monday.

The Flushing hospital, at 56-45 Main St., has become the premier Queens location for heart treatments over the last 15 years and it is eagerly awaiting the opening of a new wing later this year, said Stephen Mills, who runs NYHQ.

“Today our surgical outcomes are some of the highest in New York state,” Mills said in his annual “State of the Hospital” address Monday evening. “We’re in the top 10 percent ... of hospitals in the U.S. and we intend to stay there.”

But the health reform bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last month and the closings of three other Queens hospitals in the last 18 months have left the hospital with significant challenges.

Though Mills admitted he could not predict exactly what all the effects of the federal legislation would be, but he said he knew the law would be a detriment to the hospital’s bottom line.

“We have [seen] and we will see less money coming in for our services than we have in recent years,” he said. “In the next 10 years we expect to see $146 million less coming into this hospital from Medicare alone, so that gives you a pretty sobering view.”

The fall 2008 closing of Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills and the winter 2009 shutdowns of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s s hospitals in Queens, along with the imminent shuttering of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, have led to a major uptick in emergency department visits to NYHQ, further straining hospital resources.

In 1999, fewer than 60,000 patients visited the Emergency Department at NYHQ, but by 2007 that number had hit 90,000 and last year it climbed to 115,000, according to Mills.

Despite these and other concerns the hospital faces, NYHQ is delivering great health care to patients in need, Mills said.

The cardiology division at NYHQ is particularly top-notch, said Dr. Chong Park, its director, and when the new wing opens it will boost the hospital’s reputation as the “heart hospital of Queens” with new heart care facilities.

“A 48-year-old male came in yesterday with a heart attack, smoker with high blood pressure,” Park said. “I met him and we gave him what’s called a stint ... and he’s actually doing quite well in [the coronary care unit] today.”

The hospital also opened a new orthopedics and rehabilitation center in August, which has increased its ability to treat all manner of related injuries, and has purchased a da Vinci robot surgical system, which will enable the hospital’s gynecology department to do hysterectomies and other procedures in a less invasive manner starting in May.

“It’s been a great year, we’ve got a lot more coming and I hope to bring it to you and tell you about it each year,” said Dr. Jeffrey Rosen, chairman of orthopedics and rehabilitation.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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