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Expect Further Growth and Competition in Westchester's 2019 Healthcare Industry

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Healthcare, the largest sector of Westchester’s economy, continues to ride a wave of demographic inevitability. “The baby boomers are moving into their healthcare years, and the utilization patterns aren’t going down,” says White Plains Hospital COO Jeffrey Tiesi. “There is additional healthcare being delivered every day.”

The hospital’s growth reflects that: WPH now has more than 3,500 employees, a workforce that has doubled in the last decade. That growth has been accompanied by major investments in facilities. “We’ve gone from approximately 750,000 square feet to 1.5 million square feet of real estate,” Tiesi says, citing examples like 79 East Post Road, where the hospital acquired a formerly vacant building across from its cancer center. “In the spring, we’re going to relocate our family-health center and behavioral-health programs into that location.” The hospital also has grown to operate 28 outpatient facilities throughout the county and is in the process of building a $250 million, 252,000 sq. ft. ambulatory-care pavilion expected to open in 2021.

 

“The baby boomers are moving into their healthcare years, and the utilization patterns aren’t going down. There is additional healthcare being delivered every day.”

—Jeffrey Tiesi, COO, White Plains Hospital

 

With growth comes increased competition. “One by one, we have created competitive enclaves,” notes Peter Mercurio, president/CEO of Westchester Medical Health Associates (now Westchester Health Medical), a multispecialty medical group based in Katonah that grew to more than 100 doctors at 40 sites from 2007 to 2017 before being acquired by Northwell Health. “Westmed, the White Plains Hospital system, the Northwell Health system, Memorial Sloan Kettering, the Hospital for Special Surgery — they’re all here competing for the same patients,” says Mercurio. “From a business standpoint, it’s an interesting time.”

“The growth trend is expected to continue in 2019 and beyond,” says Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) senior executive VP Gary Brudnicki. “Changes in where services are delivered — offering more services in outpatient settings — are on the horizon.”

Brudnicki adds that the one constant in the healthcare economy is change. “The industry has seen and will continue to see shifts in healthcare delivery, healthcare reimbursement, and the growth of health networks,” he says. “At WMCHealth, our focus continues to be on managing this change and making investments that will enable us to address shifts in both what kind of care patients need and how it is delivered.” WMC’s investment in telehealth, for instance, is ”already paying off in providing greater access to care for patients — often where services were never available before.”


Photo courtesy of White Plains Hospital

New York Medical College, Westchester’s only health-science college and academic medical center, is growing, as well. “Our dental school, the first new dental school in New York in more than 50 years, will graduate its first class in 2020,” reports chancellor and CEO Dr. Edward Halperin. “Our research laboratories are on track for an 18 percent growth in funded medical research. We will launch a new master’s program to educate laboratory technologists and a new certificate program in pediatric speech and swallowing disorders.”

While Dr. Halperin is pleased with those developments, he says growth in healthcare as an economic force isn’t necessarily good. “The last thing Westchester in particular or the US in general needs is for healthcare to be an even larger proportion of the country’s GDP,” he says. “At the current rate of growth, healthcare [costs are] on track to choke the ability of the US to compete globally.”