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Mitchell H. Katz, MD
November 18, 2021


COVID-19 cases – While the number of citywide cases remains low, there’s been a slight increase in all boroughs over the past two weeks. Delta remains the dominant and only variant of concern. Hospitalizations in our health system have been trending down for the past 10 weeks and has remained steady over the last week. We will keep pushing vaccination and testing as our best strategies, particularly as we enter the holiday gathering season.

Vaccination program – Following the CDC approvals for the Pfizer pediatric vaccine earlier this month, we were excited to begin offering the vaccine to pediatric patients and community members. It was great to see so many of our own staff bringing in their children to our facilities to be among the first 5-11-year-old New Yorkers to get vaccinated. We are reaching out to our patients and inviting New Yorkers to make appointments to get their children vaccinated at any of our 11 hospitals.

NYC Test and Trace Corps – NYC Health + Hospitals is also supporting the city’s vaccination effort in the schools through our Test and Trace Corps team. We deployed mobile vans to public schools across the city and have delivered more than 25,000 vaccines in the first few days. We also continue to promote the importance of COVID-19 testing and are proud to have deployed mobile testing vans to more than 1,000 unique locations across the city, providing New Yorkers access to fast, flexible, no-cost COVID-19 testing when and where it’s needed most. These mobile testing deployments, guided by partnerships with community organizations, have provided more than 800,000 tests over 18,000 testing days, ensuring nearly two thirds of those deployments were dedicated to neighborhoods most severely impacted by COVID-19.


November is Home Care Month — a special time when our health system recognizes the outstanding contributions of our skilled nurses, rehabilitation therapists, social workers, and accountable care managers who support the continuity of care for patients returning to their homes and communities. The remarkable staff of NYC Health + Hospitals/ Community Care personify our mission as they provide comprehensive care to our most vulnerable patients in their homes and communities, and ensure thousands of New Yorkers can continue their journey to good health long after they’ve left our hospitals, Gotham Health centers and post-acute care centers. They provide more than 95,000 home visits every year, and more than a third of the people they serve are over the age of 60. This is critical work — Home Care visits can reduce the likelihood of hospital readmission by as much as 25%. This team served heroically during the pandemic, continuing to visit patients in their homes to avoid any disruption in their care. The Community Care team also managed the Take Care Hotel program, which enabled more than 26,000 New Yorkers— including our own health system staff who tested positive for COVID-19 — to stay in a hotel room for free, and safely separate and protect their loved ones.


Support for Transgender Patients and Staff – In November, we also recognized Transgender Awareness, which culminated on November 20 with Transgender Day of Remembrance to commemorate transgender individuals who lost their lives due to anti-transgender violence. During this week, we celebrated a number of transgendered staff and patients who receive care at NYC Health + Hospitals, and our Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosted a system-wide virtual education event highlighting the many resources we make available to our staff to advance equity and visibility for transgender communities. We also published a new Transgender Health Care Resource Guide to assist transgender New Yorkers and their allies in finding gender affirming care. So far this year, at least 45 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed, the majority of whom are Black and Latinx transgender women. Transgender people, especially transgender people of color, face violence, discrimination, and stigma every day. As a health system serving one of the largest transgender communities in the nation, we are committed to taking action to ensure our transgender patients and colleagues are in welcoming and affirming spaces.

Staff Training – We are collaborating with the Physician Affiliate Group of NY (PAGNY) to enroll providers in the LGBTQ Health Equity Certificate Program. In July and August, more than 6,800 employees completed trainings on various diversity and inclusion topics.

Equity and Access Council – There are four work groups within Council: Work Force Diversity, Inclusion, Equity of Care, Data and Monitoring. The council is developing pathway programs for underrepresented minority residents and medical students by developing elective rotations at our facilities. Conversations are underway with Morehouse School of Medicine.


In honor of Veteran’s Day, our health system facilities hosted a variety of recognition events to thank and celebrate the many military men and women who have served our country and continue to be of service through their work at NYC Health + Hospitals. We highlighted a few of these veterans in a special internal newsletter feature, where they shared their personal stories of how their military service influenced their career in health care. They all serve proudly and we are fortunate to have these men and women put their unique training, experience and expertise to support our mission to care for all New Yorkers. While I cannot name them all, I’d like to recognize one special Veteran in our NYC Health + Hospitals family who continues to inspire and sacrifice for others: Henry “Hank” Carter, the namesake of our award-winning post-acute care facility in Harlem. Hank’s generous philanthropic activities and compelling personal connection to our health system is known to many. But it may not be so well known that he was a Sergeant in the US Army who received a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his bravery and service. Hank was also a great boxer and excellent basketball player. By the end of his military service, Hank was not only the best boxer in the army, but also voted the Most Valuable Player in Army basketball. And he’s still an MVP to all the residents at NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter, where he continues to be so very present, providing support and friendship to our residents and staff. We are grateful to Hank and all the NYC Health + Hospitals veterans across our health system.


City – We are looking forward to working with all the newly elected officials who won public office in the recent elections, including incoming Mayor Adams and Comptroller Lander, as well as the Borough Presidents. We are also pleased to continue to partner with returning officials like Council Member Rivera, who heads the Council Hospital Committee, and Public Advocate Williams – both are great supporters of our health system. It will be an exciting time as we greet our new elected officials and we look forward to our future collaborations on behalf of all New Yorkers.

State – Governor Kathy Hochul continues to establish her cabinet, and among them is our colleague and friend Dr. Mary Bassett who will be the Commissioner of the Department of Health. Dr. Bassett starts on December 1st, and we look forward to working with her to address equity in the healthcare system, among other critical topics. The Governor also announced Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, from DOHMH, as Commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS). Dr. Cunningham has served as a member of this Board due to her leadership role at DOHMH and is enthusiastically cheered by our Office of Behavioral Health team in particular. We are also pleased with the appointment of Assembly Member Robert Rodriquez as Secretary of State. In his Assembly seat, he has represented both NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan and NYC Health + Hospitals/Carter, and we are grateful for his leadership in that role. These individuals are in an acting capacity until they can be confirmed by the State Senate.

Federal – The bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Biden this week will provide $1.2 trillion in investments for standard physical infrastructure items like road construction, public transit, broadband access and public works infrastructure. The next priority in DC is the Build Back Better Act, a $1.75 trillion social policy-spending plan. Though this bill continues to evolve, many of its current provisions could have a positive impact on hospitals and our health system, including the addition of new medical resident slots above the current cap with an emphasis on residents from underserved communities.


In the past month I approved an extension to our agreement with Change Healthcare to support our NYC Test and Trace Corps (T2) efforts, and I want to take this opportunity to summarize it for the Board. Change Healthcare manages call center services, principally for our ambulatory care services. They have provided those services for many years, most recently under a January 24, 2020 agreement. In the early days of the pandemic, there were additional scopes of work approved under the emergency declaration to support New York City’s response to the pandemic under the management of the T2 program. These include, as examples, operating the City’s COVID-19 Hotline, calling persons identified by T2 as COVID-19 positive to encourage quarantine, asking about the need for supportive services and responding to inquiries of parents of school-age children calling for the results of COVID-19. Many of these services, which began at various times in 2020, have continued to this date because of the emergence of the Delta variant, the back-to-school initiative, and the success they have had in managing the infection rate for our City. As the need for the services change, they will be ended and several have already been ended. Due to continuing need and uncertainty concerning the future of the epidemic, I have approved the continuation of some of these services through June 30, 2022. The total cost of the program is not expected to be more than $17,223,625 all of which is covered under our agreement with OMB.