Healthcare Providers Investing Heavily in Hudson Valley

John Jordan | August 2017

An architect’s rendering of the Patient Pavilion at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

Evolving Medical Technology Impacting Industry

The health sector is experiencing significant changes and growth throughout New York State and in the Hudson Valley in terms of new jobs, new technology and new investment.

According to the latest statistics from the New York State Department of Labor, the educational and health services sector ranked first statewide in terms of jobs gains, adding 67,000 positions between June 2016 to June 2017.

Area hospitals as well as healthcare service providers have invested in technology as well as significant bricks and mortar projects in the Hudson Valley. The industry has also been strengthened by partnerships with major New York City and other regional healthcare providers such as Montefiore Health System, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Westchester Medical Center to name a few.

Major healthcare institutions such as Westchester Medical Center, Orange Regional Medical Center, Catskill Regional Medical Center, White Plains Hospital and others have undertaken major capital projects to increase their services in their respective markets.

In addition, major healthcare services firms such as WestMed Medical Group and Crystal Run Healthcare have recently expanded their operations in the region.

The largest project currently underway is Vassar Brothers Medical Center’s new patient pavilion, which broke ground on Sept. 13, 2016. The $466-million project involves the construction of a new 696,000-square-foot patient pavilion that is scheduled to open in 2019.

Designed by architectural firm CallisonRTKL, the patient pavilion will when completed include a spacious lobby, an emergency department and trauma center with 66 treatment rooms, state-of-the-art operating suites, a 30-bed critical care unit, 264 private patient rooms, a rooftop helistop, a 300-seat conference center, a café and more.

Vassar Medical Center President Ann McMackin at the 12th annual State of the Medical Center Community Breakfast on May 9, said, “People are voting with their feet, choosing to stay here, close to their families, saying ‘Take me to Vassar’ when it comes to their healthcare.”

Françoise Dunefsky, president of the Vassar Brothers Medical Center Board of Trustees, added, “By continuing to invest in the best people, services, education and facilities, we are sending a strong message that no one has to leave the area to receive excellent healthcare.”

The Westchester Medical Center Health Network, which is undertaking a $230-million expansion of its facilities at its Westchester Medical Center campus in Valhalla, announced last year that it would be investing more than $170 million in its network facilities in Port Jervis and Kingston.

Another significant project underway is the Hospital for Special Surgery’s new outpatient facility at 1133 Westchester Ave. in White Plains. A ribbon cutting for the new 50,000-square-foot facility will be HSS’ largest outpatient center to-date and will employ approximately 20 full-time support employees in addition to physicians when it first opens its doors. HSS Westchester will offer medical services, imaging and a full spectrum of rehabilitation services.

Another critical aspect of health care services in the Hudson Valley is the changes in technology and health care advances that will continue impact the industry and the economy now and in the future.

Michael Dunn, senior vice president, innovation development, Georgia Pacific, was the keynote speaker at HVEDC’s 2nd Annual EDs and MEDs Summit held at Marist College earlier this year.

The Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. explored those issues this past spring at its 2nd Annual EDs and MEDs Summit held at Marist College.

The insightful summit highlighted how rapidly evolving medical technology is changing the health care industry—and innovative entrepreneurs and business owners are creating new business opportunities that will likely change the industry for the long term.

“The bottom line is that health care is changing—and what the industry looks like five or 10 years from now will be very different from what we are seeing today,” said HVEDC President and CEO Laurence P. Gottlieb. “Health care organizations and postsecondary institutions will need to make key investments to keep pace with the technological advancements that are happening now and will continue to take shape in the coming decade. There are business opportunities, and today’s event provided an interactive forum upon which we can evolve those discussions into action.”

With all these changes occurring so rapidly, it will be critically important for public and private high schools, community colleges and universities to invest in programs, instructors, advanced technology and new teaching methodologies that will shape the next generation of health care professionals, Gottlieb added.

“Some of our challenges are trying to predict where technology is going what it will look like 10 to 15 years from now,” said Robert Friedberg, president & CEO of Health Quest. “We also spend a lot of time and energy figuring out how to put information into our systems. But our ability to extract it is limited. The most important opportunity we have is how do we use that information? That’s the challenge we’re all experiencing today.”

“Today, it’s so critical to have a bias in finding talent that understand innovation and doing things differently,” said Joseph DiCarlo, MBA, senior vice president and director of human resources at WESTMED Practice Partners. “There’s two words I share with new hires: Being nice and being smart. We define ‘smart’ as no matter what your role is, do you approach your job with how to do things differently? That’s what’s valued. The status quo is unacceptable.”

The summit featured a panel discussion that included industry leaders from the regional health care community, colleges and universities, medical schools, home health care providers and others, who shared insights on how regional community colleges and four-year institutions in the Hudson Valley will continue to serve as the backbone of the health care industry, despite the challenges posed by changes in technology and the profession overall.

“Community colleges are very critical in providing the workforce for a traditional medical model workforce,” said Pamela Edington, EdD, president at SUNY Dutchess. “We are the first step in their medical practice journey. And when it comes to technology, the answer is through partnership and collaboration.”

“Will we be repurposing workers or developing a whole, new class of workers?” added Kristine Young, EdD, president at SUNY Orange. “Navigators and telehealth keep coming up. It’s hard for community college to get out ahead of the curve but we want to be responsible for the changing needs of the community.”

Representatives from several health care providers focused on creating a more seamless transition between the hospital room to the home for patients, ensuring that both the initial handoff and short- and long-term care is as efficient and effective as possible. Because care is becoming increasingly accessible from one’s home, the location where people interact with the health care sector is changing in substantial ways.

“You see patients who fall through the cracks and have bad outcomes,” said Virginia Feldman, MD, CEO and co-founder at Nexus Health Resources. “With the Affordable Care Act, it’s about what’s spent and it’s about making sure patients don’t fall through the cracks. We can help do this with technology. The continuum of care needs to be a larger continuum. We want to decrease the total spent and have all patients be in the most comfortable surroundings.”

Health care providers are incorporating more technology and emerging best practices to improve the level and efficiency of care they deliver to their patients. These changes are impacting organizations from the bottom up, influencing their hiring processes, employee training and the background and training they look for in new hires. This all amounts to significant investments that go beyond technology and affect nearly every aspect of a hospital or clinic’s operations.

“We’re looking at all technologies we can provide to support the patient at home,” said Mary Gadomski, director of business development at Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester, Inc. “People are waking up to home care and how important home care will be in the future. We need nurses who have critical thinking skills. We look for that individual who is self-directed and we support them with technology.”

“We’re not replacing clinical training, we’re augmenting it with technology,” said Kathleen S. Lill, MS, PA-C, director of Marist College’s Physician Assistant Program, noting the many electronic platforms used by the college. “If the community is comfortable with our technology, our students will be comfortable with using theirs. There are so many possibilities.”

“Our entire medical school is built on technology,” said Kenneth Steier, DO, executive dean and chief academic officer at TouroCOM-New York, who provided examples of the college’s 3D anatomy systems and robotic patients. “We can create just about any medical emergency with technology. The students are so technically based and oriented. It’s all about technology and I know our students will be ready for it.”

The HVEDC summit also featured keynote speaker Michael Dunn, senior vice president, innovation development, Georgia Pacific, who noted that trends such as mobile health, economies of scale, drive-through health care, hand hygiene compliance, consumerism and automation of care will be main drivers in healthcare. Apps and connected devices will be used to deliver data that will be used to improved healthcare security, safety and wellness. Expanded beyond that are wearable devices like Google Project Jacquard, “e-skin” apparel like Xenoma and even watch-like devices like Heartisans, which uses algorithms to predict cardiac arrest.

“It’s about being smart and understanding the data and knowing how to use it,” said Dunn, noting augmented and virtual reality is becoming of age. “What are the things you need to be prepared for? And all the data becomes available using analytics and the cloud.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth