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PR- 089-04
April 20, 2004


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) President Dr. Benjamin Chu announced today a major modernization and expansion of Harlem Hospital Center. The five-year, $225.5 million modernization and expansion will enable Harlem Hospital to improve its physical and therapeutic environment and offer more state-of-the-art services to Harlem and its surrounding neighborhoods.  The capital funding for the project will be included in the Fiscal Year '05 Executive Budget.  Harlem Hospital opened its doors in 1887 and serves a community whose residents suffer disproportionately from asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

"Today's announcement means that when finished, Harlem Hospital will among the most technologically advanced hospitals - public or private - in the City," said Mayor Bloomberg.  "The modernization project will allow for growth and change to meet the community's diverse medical needs.  Most importantly, Harlem Hospital's proud tradition of outstanding health care will be upheld and enhanced."

"The changes at Harlem will integrate inpatient, emergency room and outpatient services in a manner that is consistent with HHC's priority of patient-centered care," said HHC President Dr. Benjamin Chu.  "HHC continues to embrace its mission to provide high quality health care to all New Yorkers and the new modern Harlem Hospital will be equipped to meet the growing needs of the Harlem community."

"A newly renovated, modern Harlem Hospital is what we need and deserve," said Dr. John Palmer, Executive Director of Harlem Hospital.  "We are dedicated to continuing, indeed improving upon, the exemplary medical care and services this hospital has provided for our patients now and in the future."

Harlem Hospital is currently comprised of seven buildings over two blocks.  The upgrade will expand the hospital by 20,000 square feet; 150,000 square feet of new space will be built and 183,000 square feet of existing space will be renovated.   In the course of the renovation, three antiquated and obsolete buildings will be demolished. 

A new Patient Pavilion will be built on Lenox Avenue from 136th to 137th streets, and will house the hospital's new Emergency Department which will have separate walk-in and ambulance entrances, state-of-the-art critical care and diagnostic units and new fully equipped operating rooms.  The construction of the new Patient Pavilion will connect the Martin Luther King Pavilion and the Ron L. Brown Pavilion, creating one large building complex for Harlem Hospital.

The modernization and expansion plan will also improve the Medical Surgical and Inpatient Unit in the existing Martin Luther King Pavilion. The hospital will be converting four-bed rooms into two-bed and single-bed rooms, with bathroom facilities in each room.  In addition, it will connect the outpatient clinics with such services as radiology and laboratory and bring maternal and newborn services onto one floor.

To continue to provide a nurturing, therapeutic environment, Harlem Hospital plans to preserve its existing murals for incorporation in the new facility.  The hospital is home to many extraordinary works of art by African-American artists and the modernization will include a plan to preserve and move the art into new locations where it can be more visible to the public.  During the 1930s the Works Program Administration sponsored the creation of several murals throughout the building including works by Charles Alston. Sculptor John Rhoden created the now famous sculpture that adorns the front of Harlem Hospital.  Harlem continues to support modern artists who create works of art throughout the hospital.

Harlem Hospital is home to a nationally recognized Asthma Center, one of only six such clinical research centers in the country; and the award-winning model Tuberculosis Clinic, one of only three in the U.S.  Since 1992, the clinic has helped reduce active tuberculosis cases in Harlem by 75%.  The AIDS initiative program at Harlem Hospital provides screening for all HIV patients and for those at highest risk for the disease. It also coordinates treatment; offers psychological and social services; and provides inpatient, emergency, post-discharge and alternate care, such as hospice or long-term home health care.  Recently, Harlem Hospital's AIDS physicians were central in winning a $125  million grant from Columbia University to expand HIV service programs throughout Africa.

The Pediatric Injury Prevention Program at Harlem Hospital has worked to build 35 school playgrounds. Through its "Bike Smart" effort, all third-grade students are taught street and bike safety. Since the program's launch, there has been a 48% decrease in major injuries suffered by children in Harlem each year.

Harlem Hospital is a teaching institution affiliated with the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. The hospital's Residency Program is a national leader in the training of minority African-American physicians.  Harlem Hospital treats nearly 80,000 emergency room cases annually and more than 320,000 patients use the hospital clinics.  Harlem Hospital Center is located at 506 Lenox Avenue in Harlem.


Edward Skyler / Jonathan Werbell   (212) 788-2958

Kate McGrath   (HHC)
(212) 788-3386

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