On his last day as CEO of NYC Health & Hospitals, Dr. Ram Raju presided over the groundbreaking of a $28 million ambulatory-care center on Staten Island.
The 18,000-square-foot facility on Vanderbilt Avenue, in the Clifton section of the borough, is expected to open in the fall of 2017 and handle about 40,000 patient visits annually by 2020.
The project is emblematic of Raju's efforts to steady the financially struggling system by expanding ambulatory care and attracting more patients who could be enrolled in the city-run MetroPlus health plan. Raju announced Nov. 7 that he would leave the system Nov. 30, with Stanley Brezenoff taking over as interim chief executive.
During his tenure, Raju fielded heated questions from Staten Island lawmakers who felt neglected by the municipal hospital system as the only borough without a public hospital.
The New York health system operates two neighborhood health centers on Staten Island, in Stapleton and Mariners Harbor. It also has mobile medical vans that service the borough.
MetroPlus needs to grow its membership by about 8% this year to stay on target to reach 675,000 enrollees by 2020. That goal could become even more difficult if President-elect Donald Trump's policies affect New Yorkers' eligibility for Medicaid or qualified health plans.
All those challenges will land squarely on the plate of Raju's successor. City Hall has said only that its national search for Raju's permanent replacement is ongoing.