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  March 27, 2005

Improvements in Our Public Hospitals

By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Last week, we cut the ribbon on a new state-of-the-art acute care center at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. It doubles the size of the hospital's busy emergency department. And with innovations like bedside computers in the intensive care unit that nurses and doctors can use to call up X-rays, test results, and other patient information, Jacobi has vaulted into the front ranks of the technological revolution in health care.

More than that, the improvements at Jacobi exemplify the dramatic, ongoing turnaround of New York City's public hospitals and clinics across all five boroughs. Just a few years ago, many of our public hospitals were on the critical list themselves. But now they are among the best hospitals, public or private, in the nation.

You don't have to take my word for it. Under our Administration, all 11 hospitals run by the Health and Hospitals Corporation have undergone rigorous independent accreditation reviews. Each passed with flying colors, getting some of the highest grades any New York City hospitals have ever earned. And earlier this month, Consumer Digest listed Harlem and Coney Island Hospitals and Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center among the "50 Exceptional U.S. Hospitals" in the area of hospital safety.

Those are remarkable achievements. But we're not resting on our laurels. Just as patient care at public hospitals continues to advance, so does the quality of HHC facilities. In the last year alone, we've completed a host of improvements at hospitals and clinics around the city, including a new ambulatory care center at Bellevue-all of them on time, and within their budgets. By the end of this year, we hope to open new acute and ambulatory care facilities at Kings County and Coney Island Hospitals. We recently broke ground on a new cancer care center at Elmhurst Hospital, and we'll soon start a $225 million modernization of Harlem Hospital.

That's because our Administration believes that every New Yorker, regardless of income, deserves top-quality medical care. That's key to our goal of creating a City of Opportunity for everyone. And before I sign off this morning, I want to mention one of the simplest and most important health care measures that many average New Yorkers can take on their own behalf: Getting examined for colon cancer.

Those of us who are 50 or older face an elevated risk of this disease-but screening tests, called colonoscopies, are very effective at detecting its early stages. Simply put, colonoscopies save lives. All HHC hospitals provide free or low-cost colonoscopies, and because of increased outreach by public health agencies, last year they performed more than twice as many of these tests as during 2003. But still, only about half of high-risk New Yorkers have been screened. That means that every year, hundreds of our neighbors and loved ones die of a disease that could have been prevented. If you're 50 or older, don't wait. To find out more, talk to your doctor, call 311, or visit the City's website at We're doing all we can to improve your health. But sometimes, the most important steps are the ones you take yourself.