The latest hospital to be pulled into the rising tide of health care consolidation in New York is Winthrop-University Hospital, based in Mineola. One of the few independent community hospitals left standing on Long Island, the hospital is now making moves to integrate with NYU Langone Medical Center.
The two hospitals announced Thursday afternoon that they signed a non-binding letter of intent to begin working out the terms of an integrated health network.
"This first step represents a momentous milestone for Winthrop,” said John Collins, the hospital's president and chief executive, in a statement. “As Long Island's first community hospital, we have grown into a major academic medical center, and with our services in such demand, it became obvious that we needed to expand further, physically and geographically.
Whispers of Winthrop partnering with another hospital or health network started in the spring of 2015. At the time, a spokesman for Winthrop said the hospital had ruled out the possibility of joining Long Island's largest and fastest-growing hospital network, Northwell Health (then called North Shore-LIJ), because it likely would mean shedding some of its autonomy and services.
North Shore-LIJ takes over hospitals … those models are not the kind of thing we're interested in,” the spokesman told The Island Now, a Long Island news site, in April last year. “As it stands, Winthrop plans to remain a major academic medical center providing comprehensive health care to the residents of Long Island. We're not looking to become a specialist center or just an emergency room.
Far from seeking a partnership as a lifeboat, both Winthrop and NYU Langone are thriving. Winthrop reported a $29.4 million gain in operating revenue in fiscal 2015, with $19.5 million in operating profits. For its part, NYU Langone earned about $229 million from operations in its 2015 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 30.
While NYU Langone is not a sprawling, $8.7 billion operation like Northwell, it has been expanding. It acquired Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn in January and now operates 175 outpatient locations.
With the announcement that it will begin talks with Winthrop, NYU Langone is making its first big splash on Long Island—a region that until now had remained exclusively the domain of Northwell Health, a 21-hospital system, and Catholic Health Services of Long Island, a six-hospital system. NYU Langone has long courted Long Island residents to head to Manhattan for care, but following its prior acquisition of Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, the Winthrop announcement seems to confirm NYU Langone's intent to create a regional health system.
Consolidation among New York hospitals is expected to continue until there are just a handful of large health care systems, said Dr. David Friend, chief transformation officer at consulting firm BDO.
“With hospital admissions falling and length of stays going down it becomes more important for these guys to find scale and find geographic coverage,” he said. But unlike the situation in Brooklyn, where Northwell is considering partnering with four cash-strapped hospitals, both NYU Langone and Winthrop are in a position to capitalize on their current financial strength. “The strong are going to want to marry the strong,” Friend said.
In addition to hashing out the terms of their partnership, the two hospitals will have to get state approval for any new arrangement.
"NYU Langone explores its first partnership with a Long Island hospital" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.