The nation's largest public healthcare system-New York City's-plans to eliminate 1,100 of its 49,000 jobs, cut its hospital supply budget by $20 million and close a burn unit at 682-bed Harlem Hospital Center.
The cuts approved last week by the board of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. are intended to fill a $166 million budget gap. Some 314 jobs would be eliminated from HHC's corporate offices.
The corporation also is in the midst of a special review of its largest-ever hospital reconstruction project, which is behind schedule and over budget (Feb. 14, p. 14). The review was ordered in the wake of continuing financial woes at HHC, whose current budget is about $3 billion.
Meanwhile, HHC's capital spending plans are being reviewed and could be reduced as well. An HHC spokeswoman said no decisions have been made about the future sale of healthcare bonds.
The wave of frugality comes at a time of upheaval for the city healthcare system. With the installation of a new mayor in January, HHC got a new board chairman and its fourth president in two years. Bruce Siegel, M.D., formerly New Jersey's health commissioner, was installed as president this month, and board Chairman Luis A. Miranda Jr. was appointed in January.
HHC operates 11 acute-care and five long-term-care hospitals, numerous clinics and the city ambulance service.
The shakeup at corporate headquarters has been compounded by the new mayor's own ideas for revamping the city's healthcare system. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani proposed privatizing four of HHC's 16 acute-care and long-term-care hospitals. He also called for a moratorium on construction at 1,210-bed Kings County Hospital Center, the corporation's largest acute-care facility.
Mr. Miranda doesn't support the moratorium but spoke critically of HHC's failure to complete the project on time and on budget. The projected cost of the project, which includes building a new acute-care facility, is $424 million more than the original estimate of $500 million.