This Thursday, it was my pleasure to stand with the people of Queens to break ground on the construction of the new Queens Hospital -- a major step forward in continuing to improve the performance and the effectiveness of New York City's hospital system.
The hospital, which will be completed in the year 2001, will be a 200-bed facility accommodating a whole host of medical and surgical services including intensive care, behavioral health, medical rehabilitation, pediatrics, obstetrics, labor and delivery suites, and a new state-of-the-art emergency department.
It will also include the development of two Centers of Excellence -- one for cancer care treatment and another for women's health services -- and two community-based primary care centers.
This represents another accomplishment for our Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), which over the last five years has turned itself around, particularly under the leadership of Dr. Luis Marcos and Dr. Rosa Gil.
In response to changing market forces in healthcare and a new citywide philosophy emphasizing preventive and primary care, HHC has improved the way it delivers services to patients, becoming more accountable and enhancing the quality of patient care.
Admissions to HHC Acute Care Hospitals have dropped by almost 13% each year since fiscal year 1992. The average length of stay at these hospitals has also dropped by about 30% since fiscal year 1992. And very, very important, emergency room visits have decreased by 10 percent over the same period of time.
At the same time, primary care visits are up -- from about 1.5 million six years ago to more than 2 million this year. So the system is moving in precisely the direction that it has to -- decreasing reliance on the emergency room, increasing the reliance on preventive care and primary care at an earlier stage.
New York City's healthcare network is more efficient, both medically and financially. Our hospitals used to be in danger of losing their accreditation. But in 1994, for the first time since 1977, all HHC facilities that were surveyed received full accreditation.
And HHC, which six years ago had a $172 million deficit, ended last fiscal year with a positive bottom line for the third consecutive year -- with a $21 million surplus.
All this means not only healthier hospitals, but a healthier and more independent New York City that's preventing illness when possible and treating those in need better than ever before.