By Joe Anuta
Flushing Hospital Medical Center is set to open a new ambulatory care center in an effort to change how health care is delivered as beds become scarcer throughout the borough.
Last week the medical facility’s brass cut the ribbon on the 8,900-square-foot center, which could open in as few as two to three weeks.
“The movement in health care today is to try to provide care in the least-costly environment,” said Bruce Flanz, president of Flushing Hospital. “So the more out-patient, ambulatory services the better it is for the patient, the better it is for the system.”
The new center, in part of the hospital on the corner of 45th Avenue and Burling Street, will offer services in medicine, pediatrics, surgery and a variety of other specialities, including radiology and ophthalmology. The idea is to help patients stay healthy with preventative care and keep them out of the emergency room.
“This is state-of-the-art, cutting-edge and the future,” Flanz said.
Six hospitals have closed in the borough over the last 10 years, with Holliswood Hospital in Jamaica Estates becoming the latest facility to shut down in August.
Although the loss of beds has alarmed many leaders in Queens, including Borough President Helen Marshall, Flanz, who has been involved in Queens health care for 38 years, said advances in medicine have actually cut down the need for longterm stays and have brought ambulatory services to the forefront.
“Thirty-eight years ago we had 25 hospitals in Queens. Today we have nine,” he said. “But you don’t need as many.”
For example, a quarter century ago, a hernia operation used to require a five-day stay, he said, but with advances in treatment patients are in and out in three or four hours.
The new facility will replace the hospital’s old ambulatory care center, which served about 50,000 patients a year, and will soon be able to accommodate about 75,000 patients — an increase of about 50 percent. It boasts 32 exam rooms, half designed for pediatric care.
The yearlong construction project was funded through a $4 million Health Efficiency and Affordability Law Grant, doled out by the state to help fund capital expansions at hospitals.
The facility is set to open shortly after the state launches its health care exchange, which is designed to offer more affordable care to New Yorkers as part of the Obamacare program.
It is the hospital’s hope that more Queens residents will become insured and use the ambulatory facility to obtain preventive care, according to spokesman Michael Hinck.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.