Public Hospital Dialysis Patients Win On Quality Care; For-Profit Chain Set Back

For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 20, 2014

 
Contact: Carl Ginsburg, 917-405-1060
 
(New York, NY) The state has removed the application of Big Apple Dialysis Management, LLC from the agenda of the scheduled March 27th meeting of the NYS Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council due to efforts by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, in concert with the Health and Hospitals Corporation.
 
Big Apple is a for-profit dialysis company that sought to take over four chronic dialysis facilities now within New York City’s public hospital system.  The four clinics at Harlem, Lincoln, Metropolitan and Kings County hospitals, will continue to provide quality chronic dialysis care to more than one thousand patients under HHC’s ownership.  
 
The administration’s actions open the door for further dialogue on the negative impact of privatizing public health services.
 
The coalition of patients, caregivers, nurses and doctors that has been working to protect public dialysis services expressed its thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s administration, including Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli for her attention to dialysis patients at the four public facilities and their concerns about quality of care surrounding the impending sale.  Special thanks were extended to Public Advocate Letitia James for her close scrutiny of the matter.  Also thanked by the coalition for their concern and inquiry were Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Corey Johnson, Robert E. Cornegy, Matthieu Eugene, Inez Dickens, Annabel Palma, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Vanessa Gibson, Andrew Cohen and Rosie Mendez.    State Senators Montgomery and Perkins also contributed to the effort on behalf of HHC’s dialysis patients.
 

"Removing dialysis patients from the public hospital clinics was ill-conceived," said Anne Bové, RN, president of the HHC Executive Council of the New York State Nurses Association.  "A for-profit company with a problematic track record in these services will not provide the same level of quality care to our patients and we question whether the savings figures are accurate, as well.
 
"Privatization of services at HHC, a system that serves one in six New Yorkers, has lowered quality and threatens to undercut one of the finest public health systems in all of America's cities," Bové added.
 
"We applaud Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli for officially pulling the application for Big Apple Dialysis expansion," said District Council 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts.  "This move by Mayor de Blasio's administration pushes the reset button and halts the previous administration's plan to aggressively sell off the Health and Hospitals Corporation's dialysis services.  This move will positively impact life-saving patient care in low income and poor communities that desperately need the quality, public-delivered healthcare and the dedicated public employees who provide this care with great compassion and professionalism."
 
"We are pleased that HHC has rethought the outsourcing of dialysis as we believe patient care services are best provided by the excellent patient care team that we have at HHC facilities and hospitals,” said Dr. Frank Proscia, Doctors Council SEIU President. “When the input and voices of doctors, nurses, all health care workers and community members are listened to patients win.  We thank Mayor de Blasio's administration, Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli, the City Council members and elected officials for doing the right thing for patient care.  As doctors, we are glad to advocate with community members and other health care unions for patient care."
 
“This is a victory around ensuring there can be an alternative to the solution that the private industry can do better in providing health care,” said Commission on the Public’s Health System Director Anthony Feliciano.  “There is very little evidence that privatization improves access and quality of care.  Decisions to outsource and consolidate cannot happen in a vacuum. Community and health care workers should be part of any decisions that impact their health and livelihood. The mayor and his administration are keeping their word that there other voices besides corporations that must be heard and prioritized.”
 
Clarette Fontanelle, a dialysis patient at Kings County Hospital Center, said, “We are very happy about this news.  It is a victory for chronic dialysis patients.   We really wanted the Mayor to give close consideration and review of the quality care issues at Big Apple Dialysis and that’s what he’s doing. We are very thankful.”
 
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