Is this a merger or an acquisition?
Legally, it is neither. It is a combination of two outstanding healthcare providers that brings together valuable resources, and organizations with long histories of services, into an integrated, multi-site health system and academic medical center. It will be under a new overall umbrella called the Mount Sinai Health System to capitalize on Mount Sinai’s positive national and international name and brand recognition.
The Board of Trustees for the Mount Sinai Health System was created upon closing with appointments of members from both the Mount Sinai and the Continuum Boards of Trustees. Kenneth L. Davis is serving as CEO of the health system.
What “weight” will be given to The Mount Sinai Hospital, as compared to Mount Sinai Queens and the Continuum hospitals?
All of the hospitals will have “equal weight” under the new health care system. Each hospital will continue to serve its principal mission and provide needed services. Access to primary and specialty care will be expanded for all patients of the system through greater integration between the various hospitals and its vast ambulatory care network.
We also will look to expand large-scale, population management services for particular chronic diseases. We also will look to increase administrative efficiencies and achieve economies of scale in areas such as purchasing and employee benefits, thereby driving down operational costs. Over time, we plan to have a number of centers of excellence spread across the system. All the hospitals will be held to the same high standards of care for all patients, and common protocols and best practices will be shared by every hospital. There will be one electronic medical record system shared across the entire network.
Some of the Continuum hospitals are affiliated with other medical schools. What will happen to those affiliations?
All hospitals and teaching programs in the Mount Sinai Health System will be associated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. All physicians affiliated with the system will have academic appointments at the Icahn School of Medicine. All physician teaching programs will be under the authority of the Icahn School of Medicine. The education of Continuum’s residents will be uninterrupted as we transition from former teaching affiliations to the Icahn School of Medicine. Mount Sinai has a legacy of groundbreaking clinical and translational research that has led to improved methods of diagnosing and treating human disease. The synergy between Mount Sinai and Continuum will widen our research base and accelerate the pace of breakthrough treatments and protocols.
How aligned are the missions of Mount Sinai and the Continuum hospitals?
Mount Sinai and the Continuum hospitals all enjoy illustrious histories—and almost all were founded well over 100 years ago on similar missions of community service. The most significant common thread is that they all were established to serve particular communities that didn’t have, or were denied, access to quality health care. The Mount Sinai Health System will look to build upon these founding missions by addressing 21st century healthcare issues—issues that greatly parallel those at the time of our hospitals’ founding: Improving access to care, providing greater clinical management of chronic diseases, and advancing innovation, research and medical education.
How do Mount Sinai and Continuum complement each other?
Mount Sinai is an academic medical center—and a research hospital. The patients of the Continuum hospitals will greatly benefit from the innovation and research conducted at Mount Sinai. The Continuum hospitals have a well-regarded network of ambulatory and community-based primary care practices. The Continuum hospitals also operate some of the busiest emergency rooms in New York City. All of these services will be strengthened through greater access to the nationally-ranked, specialty and sub-specialty clinical services at Mount Sinai. The new system’s 13.5 million square feet of space allows for further examination of clinical expansion and re-allocation of appropriate clinical resources to meet the needs of each hospital in the system.
How will departments merge? Will chairs at Mount Sinai automatically become chairs at Continuum, or will chairs work together?
We want to build clinical partnerships between the hospitals in our system, and that is going to be built upon collaboration and teamwork. The Mount Sinai chairs will serve as the academic chairs for their respective clinical departments across all campuses. That way, we can move expeditiously in linking up all of the teaching programs under the Icahn School of Medicine. Many of Mount Sinai’s clinical departments also enjoy national and international renown, and are recognized in the US News & World Report rankings for individual clinical excellence. We cannot ignore this fact as we move further along with clinical integration. However, this does not mean that clinical leadership decisions will be arbitrary. We recognize the clinical strengths of the Continuum hospitals, and those strengths will be recognized in clinical re-organization.
With combinations such as these, there is almost certainly consolidation. How many jobs will be lost in this process?
Hospitals have to operate on a daily 24/7 basis, and you need people to make this happen. We are not looking at reduction of our workforce as the initial area to achieve savings. Our first focus is going to look at savings through economies of scale in areas like purchasing, information technology contracting, and improvements in financial management. Also, improving quality outcomes will reduce redundancies in care and unnecessary hospitalizations, thereby reducing costs. We want to have strong, working relationships with our employees’ unions, since a majority of our workforce is covered under collective bargaining agreements.
Why call the new entity “Mount Sinai Health System?”
We wanted to launch this new combined entity building on the national and international name and brand recognition of its strongest partner. Mount Sinai has been consistently ranked in US News & World Report as one of the country’s finest hospitals. It is our intention not to strip away each of the hospitals’ unique personalities and missions of service, but rather strengthen them by aligning them with the national and international recognition of Mount Sinai. We also want to emphasize that all of these medical institutions will be aligned with the Icahn School of Medicine, which also adds greatly to their already outstanding reputations.
How has the community reacted to the new system?
We are very sensitive to the feelings of the communities that we serve and respect the roles that our hospitals play in the lives of these communities. We have been meeting with elected officials and other community leaders to present to them our vision for the Mount Sinai Health System and to hear their concerns and answer any questions that they might have. We plan to keep these lines of communication open. As we move further along with integration, we will share our plans with the community through the appropriate channels to ensure that our actions are perceived in the most favorable light.
Change is sometimes hard for people to accept, and we anticipate that some of the things with which we will be going forward will be questioned and even challenged by certain individuals and constituencies within a community. That is why we remain committed to open dialogue.