2011-04-08 / Community

Local Hospital Programs Extended

By Howard Schwach

Two local health facilities that were scheduled to lose vital federal programs on September 30 have received word that the funding for the programs has been extended until the end of March in 2014, according to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who negotiated the extension with the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Health facilities throughout the state were in danger of losing billions of dollars in funding if projects were not completed. With the deadline now extended until March 30, 2014, New York hospitals have more time to plan for the future and complete their preapproved projects,” Gillibrand said.

St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and Central Assisted Living, both in Far Rockaway, were threatened with a combined loss of $4 million in funding already set aside for construction improvements.

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, along with a group of Senate and House colleagues, wrote a letter to President Obama’s budget chief and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calling for a three-year extension of the deadline in order to allow the projects to move forward.

St. John’s Hospital has been allocated $2.2 million to construct a Center for Integrated Care by renovating an existing space for outpatient services to people that suffer from dual diagnoses of mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The $1.6 million in funding for Central Assisted Living is to expand the facility’s capacity, which includes adding more beds to meet their growing demand for patient care.

Penny Chin, spokesperson for St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, told The Wave when the money was first put on hold that the construction of this facility will lower the hospital’s costs in the long run.

The facility will be renovated from an existing space within the hospital’s main campus.

“The project is very much needed to treat people with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues,” she said. “It’s a nationwide problem and a Rockaway problem, so it would be a great opportunity and more cost effective in the long run to be able to complete this facility.”

The program, through which these 350 projects in NY are being funded, is called Federal-State Health Reform Program (F-SHRP). The program provides help to modernize hospitals and create jobs across the state by investing in infrastructure projects. The F-SHRP program’s goals are to promote the efficient operation of the State’s health care system; consolidate and right-size New York’s health care system by reducing excess capacity in the acute care system; shift emphasis in long-term care from institutionalbased to community-based settings; expand the adoption of advanced health information technology and improve ambulatory and primary care provision.

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