A state-of-the-art primary care facility designed to reduce emergency room visits opened Tuesday for seniors, women and children at Nassau University Medical Center, one of three new specialty sites to begin operation in recent days on Long Island.
The opening of the 38,000-square-foot NUMC center in East Meadow arrived on the heels of the new Sandra Atlas Bass Center for Liver Diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, a $4 million, 10,000-square-foot facility that opened Friday. On Wednesday, officials at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital officially unveil the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Comprehensive Care Center, the only facility of its kind in the tristate area.
NUMC’s Primary Care Center was funded with an $18 million HEAL 21 grant — state funding aimed at improving health care in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.
The new center, which features dozens of examination rooms, is expected to serve more than 300,000 people annually and reduce emergency room visits by 25 percent, officials said during Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, in which hospital chief executive Dr. Victor Politi was joined by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City).
“It’s such a large space — 55 examination rooms — that patients can have an appointment the same day,” Politi said. “We would like for patients to think of us as their primary care doctors, and if you don’t have one, you can come here. The whole idea here is this: If we can keep a close eye on patients they can avoid emergency room admissions.”
Staff members at the center can help patients who lack health insurance find coverage either through the Affordable Care Act or commercial insurers, Politi said.
He said the new center marks “the latest milestone and signature project of our major modernization program.”
Along with the examination rooms, the facility features several waiting rooms, work stations, conference rooms and a children’s game area.
In Manhasset, the new Sandra Atlas Bass facility is aimed at the growing population of people on Long Island with serious liver disorders, especially hepatitis C.
In 2011, the Long Island Regional Hepatitis C Task Force estimated 44,000 people in the region were living with the viral infection but didn’t know it. The group predicted the number of infections would increase substantially in the ensuing five years. The new center, which has 18 examination rooms and a multimedia center to accommodate researchers and physicians, is situated next to the hospital’s division of infectious diseases and is led by Dr. David Bernstein.
Renowned surgeon Dr. Lewis Teperman has been recruited by Northwell Health, parent organization of the hospital, to develop a liver transplant program at the center.
Bernstein said he’s encouraged by recent prescription drug developments aimed at treating hepatitis C, which have allowed doctors to better serve infected patients.
“It is now the only virus that we can cure,” Bernstein said.
New hepatitis C medications, such as Harvoni, a product of Gilead Sciences, and Sovaldi, by the same drugmaker, are extraordinarily expensive, but Bernstein said Northwell Health has had a “97 to 98 percent authorization rate with insurance companies” to pay for the drugs. That rate is significantly higher than the national rate of 60 percent, he said.
The medications can run more than $1,100 per pill, which adds up to nearly $95,000 for 12 weeks of treatment.
At Stony Brook, the comprehensive center for Duchenne muscular dystrophy will be led by Dr. Susan Manganaro. The disorder is one of the most common and devastating genetic conditions of childhood, affecting approximately 1 in 5,000 children, primarily boys.
An estimated 1,000 boys in the tristate area have been diagnosed with this form of muscular dystrophy. The closest treatment sites aimed specifically at the condition are in Boston and Baltimore, Stony Brook officials said.
The new treatment center is expected to become the destination site for patients residing in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.
A $600,000 gift from the Hope for Javier Foundation helped establish the new center.