Northwell and Nassau University Medical Center have issued a letter of intent to enter a six-month partnership in which Northwell would provide management-consulting services to the East Meadow hospital, after the NUMC board of directors voted unanimously in favor of the partnership Thursday night.
As part of the partnership, Northwell executive Winnie Mack, who NUMC chairman George Tsunis credits with revitalizing Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, would become the medical center’s interim CEO.
“When someone can demonstrate that they can turn around a hospital and make it a great hospital by putting patients first, by investing in all the things that should be important in a hospital – the level and quality of health care that patients receive – to me…that’s really what’s important,” Tsunis said about Mack at a press conference on Friday.
The partnership would also include an operational analysis of the hospital and Northwell would assign new management staff, said Terry Lynam, a Northwell Health spokesman.
NUMC is a public safety-net hospital, so most of its patients either have Medicaid, Medicare or no insurance, Tsunis said.
“We are guaranteed to lose money on every patient we see,” he said.
The hospital has failed to develop alongside advances in the medical industry and “hasn’t been running optimally” due to a lack of experienced management staff, he said.
This partnership would signal a “new era” for the medical center, which has 400,000 patient visits per year, Tsunis said.
Northwell and NUMC entered an affiliation agreement in 2005, which has focused on strengthening quality of care and clinical programs, Lynam said. It has not involved deep assessment of daily operations, which the new partnership would focus on.
Northwell also plans to help NUMC develop a five-year strategic plan, Lynam said.
Earnest discussions about the new partnership began three weeks ago, Tsunis said.
The institutions are now awaiting approval from the New York State Department of Health, which they will probably gain before the end of the year, Lynam said.
Though the partnership is slated for a six-month period, “everyone’s optimistic that it’ll be extended,” Tsunis said.
Northwell has a similar relationship with One Brooklyn Health, a network of nonprofit hospitals that serve low-income communities. It developed recommendations for how One Brooklyn Health could strengthen its finances and management, and in January, Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded $664 million to implement some of the recommendations, Lynam said.
Northwell feels a similar responsibility for NUMC, Lynam said.
“We feel like we have an obligation to do what we can do help sustain the hospital and meet the needs of the communities that Nassau University Medical Center serves across the county,” Lynam said.
NUMC also serves patients who Northwell does not have the capacity to serve, Lynam said.
“Our emergency departments are strained as well so if we ever lost a valuable asset like NUMC, our emergency departments would be stretched far beyond capacity,” he said
Mack has held high level positions throughout Northwell’s network, including serving as chief nurse executive and associate executive director of patient care services at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream and Syosset Hospital, executive director at Southside Hospital and regional executive director for Northwell’s Eastern Region.
She is currently Northwell’s senior vice president and deputy chief operating officer.
Mack would be the first person with prior experience as a hospital CEO to ever lead NUMC, Tsunis said.