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New York City Invests $52M in Healthcare Infrastructure Upgrades

New York City is investing $52 million to upgrade healthcare infrastructure at the NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan hospital in East Harlem.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- New York City is investing $52 million to upgrade healthcare infrastructure at the NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan hospital in East Harlem.

Of that investment, close to half will go to upgrading the emergency power system, which is critical to ensure the facility’s IT networks, computers, medical devices, lighting, and other essential functions continue to work in an emergency, such as a natural disaster.

The remaining money will go to replacing windows in behavioral health units, replacing the roof, upgrading cooling system components, and upgrading the automatic fire sprinkler system.

“NYC Heath + Hospitals/Metropolitan has been a mainstay in this community for decades, and this investment will help the hospital get the upgrades needed to continue serving the community,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in announcing the investment program.

“Metropolitan Hospital is a critical community resource for residents of East Harlem and we are proud to invest in it,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio. “We are committed to preserving our public hospital system, making it financially sustainable and able to deliver the best healthcare services for all New Yorkers.”

“While $52 million is obviously a significant investment, it’s clear that it is needed as part of our long-term commitment to the hospital,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz. “We want our staff to be able to focus on meeting our patients’ care needs and keeping them healthy, not worrying about roofs and power systems.”

“Our hospital has been an integral part of the East Harlem community since the 1950s,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan CEO Alina Moran. “Every day, we provide the highest quality of care to our patients. We welcome this level of capital investment that will allow us to upgrade our buildings and make the necessary repairs to our infrastructure.”

“Our public hospitals are a vital lifeline providing essential services in our neighborhoods, and we need to keep investing in them,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “These crucial infrastructure investments will strengthen Metropolitan Hospital and the surrounding neighborhood.”

In the first quarter of FY 2019, the hospital increased outpatient visits and decreased inpatient discharges compared to the same quarter last year.

Over this period, the hospital’s case mix—a measurement of the severity of illness—increased, indicating that the hospital’s inpatients had greater need for inpatient stays. Increasing outpatient visits, decreasing inpatient discharges, and increasing case mix index are all directions in which the health system wants to move, the announcement noted.

Emergency power vital for IT infrastructure functioning in crisis

Having a robust emergency power system is vital for any hospital’s IT infrastructure functioning in a crisis. Power outages can be caused by many factors, including weather, natural disasters, general blackout, or equipment failure.

Hospitals use emergency power to enable continued use of IT infrastructure, life support systems, and equipment.

Hospitals should validate their backup power facilities and plans, advised Bob Dupuis, VP of enterprise architecture and security at healthcare consulting firm Arcadia Solutions.

“A larger organization should have battery backup for the short term, and for its long-term needs, it should have multiple generators. Those should be tested monthly to make sure the transition is seamless. The hospital should even test redundant generators,” Dupuis was quoted by Becker’s Health IT and CIO Report as saying.

“Validating the backup is important. Older generators may have supported power needs five years ago, but can they meet power needs now? It is important to test,” he added.

“Hospitals should review all possible disaster scenarios and make decisions based on that review. Perhaps the data center and critical equipment is 15 to 16 floors up, but the fuel source for the generators is closer to the ground. If flood waters compromise key power support systems (e.g., fuel and fuel pumps), then it doesn't matter that the data source is secure. Hospitals need to think through those scenarios,” Dupuis concluded.

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