Three New Children’s Hospitals to Begin Serving New York City Residents
While most New York hospitals can "ill afford to build new buildings because so much care now takes place outside them," there is one "striking exception" -- children's hospitals, the New York Times reports. Three hospitals around New York City are now building "major" children's hospitals, including the Montefiore Medical Center, Westchester Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Around the state, 70% of New York hospitals' $622 million in capital project spending is "being used to upgrade services for children," the Times reports. New York seems to be "catching up with the enormous expansion" of children's hospitals nationwide, the Times notes. Between 1993 and 1997, 70% of the nation's 175 children's medical centers either built entirely new centers or renovated existing space.
Economic, Political Reasons
Renovating children's centers rather than hospitals for adults makes sense both politically and economically, the Times reports, as children's centers "have a much easier time attracting philanthropic money," particularly from "high-profile sources," and can be more profitable than adult hospitals. For adult hospitals that offer children's services, pediatrics has been a "tough business in recent years," the Times reports. As the average hospital stay has dropped to six days, revenues have "eroded." But children who do have longer hospital stays generally have more serious illnesses and providing such care has become "all the more costly" as managed care companies have decreased reimbursements. Jeannie Cross, vice president of the trade group Healthcare Association of New York State, said, "Because of the current cost pressures, hospitals are focusing on what they do best and trimming off other services where there are other providers of them." While adult centers often "break even or lose money," children's hospitals "often have modest profit margins." Furthermore, Congress last year earmarked $285 million for "free-standing children's hospitals" to help pay for the "enormous costs" of training children's doctors. Adult hospitals have "enjoyed" such funding through Medicare.
Will All Three Hospitals Get Business?
With all the expansion, the Times wonders if New York City can "sustain three hospitals devoted just to children, especially when there are several children's centers in New Jersey." Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of Montefiore's new children's hospital, said, "I personally believe we need another center in Brooklyn because the need here is so overwhelming. ... I think we will all do fine." Advocates add that the children's hospitals' "focus and superior resources are very likely to result in higher-quality care," the Times notes. And each new children's hospital will employ a "slightly different strategy" to attract patients. Montefiore, for example, has a "large" number of uninsured, chronically ill and asthmatic children. For its part, New York Presbyterian hopes to draw on the hospital's "long tradition of specializing in children [to] continue to attract top-notch doctors and medical researchers" (Steinhauer, New York Times, 11/30).