Several years ago, the board of directors of Nassau University Medical Center approved spending nearly $8 million to build new executive offices on the 19th floor of the hospital, with unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline. Today, that infamous decision serves as a reminder that a hospital doesn’t exist to serve politicians and executives.
Everything we do must be focused on the needs of our patients, their families, and employees.
NUMC is Long Island’s only Level One trauma center, and with that distinction comes a responsibility to serve the most diverse patient population in our area. Our goal must be to ensure that everyone who walks through the doors of our facility is treated with the dignity, respect and care they deserve.
No matter what community or background patients come from, they should have confidence that NUMC will provide them with the best possible care. Everyone should be a VIP.
For too long the hospital’s reputation suffered because of poor planning and decision-making. Our fantastic doctors and exceptional staff have long needed better support. County Executive Bruce Blakeman selected me not just to lead NUMC but also to fix this critically important institution for our community. Together with CEO Dr. Anthony Boutin and our outstanding team, we’re doing it. We’re putting people and patients first again.
In just the past three months, we’ve begun plotting a new course for the hospital. We’ve reopened Long Island’s only multi-chamber hyperbaric unit to treat burn victims, carbon monoxide poisoning and decompression sickness — the bends. The unit can also be used for wound management, bone infections, and radiation tissue damage. It was closed for years due to red tape, but was recertified, and it is again available 24/7 for emergency use as well as regular patient treatment.
Community members have asked for a cardiac catheterization lab at the hospital for some time now, and we should have some exciting news on that front soon. Cardiac catheterization services are critically important to our ability to handle emergency conditions and save lives. Their addition will be a significant benefit for the community.
NUMC cares for patients regardless of their ability to pay, but that doesn’t mean the hospital can’t have cutting-edge technology and treatment. In May, NUMC hired neurosurgeon Dr. David Weintraub, formerly of Northwell Health, who will head a new department of neurosciences. This will be a major growth area for NUMC, expanding our capabilities to include first-class treatments for spine, brain and nerve conditions.
Also, in the coming weeks, we’ll begin renovating a number of key patient and visitor-facing spaces that have long needed upgrading. We are redesigning our emergency room entrance to improve access for ambulances.
We’re going to do a better job of communicating with residents about our services and preventive care as well. Starting this summer, we’ll be launching a social media campaign in both English and Spanish that will involve every department at the hospital to inform the public about living healthier.
We’ve named a new interim chief medical officer, Dr. Grace Ting, whose more than 30 years of experience will help improve patient care and better advocate for our physicians’ needs. We’re also putting a new emphasis on our extraordinary employees, working to attract outstanding new talent, and recognizing the care provided by our staff every day. Our new employee recognition program begins this month.
Another way we are putting people first is by ensuring the hospital’s long-term financial sustainability, with a comprehensive review of all financial standards and practices. In just its first week, our review uncovered more than $12 million in outstanding revenue the county owed the hospital. County Executive Blakeman promptly presented us with a check that cut our previous budget deficit significantly. We will announce a new financial management plan shortly.
Our reviews have also uncovered potential fraud that led to the arrest of a former employee. While this kind of abuse is reprehensible, it underscored the need for a totally new approach to running the hospital.
We launched a national search for a new chief financial officer, and will be making new efforts to increase revenue. A sound financial future for NUMC will mean more resources to reinvest in the hospital, its facilities, services and personnel.
It’s an exciting time for us. With priorities that truly put patients and their families first, we’re going to make NUMC an even better, more modern medical center that people can trust for generations to come.
Matthew J. Bruderman is the chairman of the Nassau University Medical Center board of directors.