Maimonides Health and SUNY Downstate announce new cancer care collaboration

Maimonides Health center exterior in Central Brooklyn.
Maimonides Health and SUNY Downstate announced new collaboration.
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Maimonides Health, SUNY Downstate Health and the University Physicians of Brooklyn (UPB) announced a joint collaboration on Feb. 2 to launch a hematology-oncology partnership to expand cancer care in Central Brooklyn.

The newly-announced partnership will grant further access to lifesaving care at the University Hospital of Downstate (UHD) by allowing patients to seek specialist care from the Maimonides Cancer Center, while also utilizing Downstate’s research and academic capabilities.

This new program is the most extensive hematology-oncology program in Brooklyn and will begin seeing patients immediately. 

“As mission-driven institutions, we are aligned in the conviction that everyone deserves access to high-quality care right in their neighborhoods — and that’s exactly what this partnership brings to underserved communities in Central Brooklyn,” said Maimonides,” Health CEO Ken Gibbs in a statement Thursday.

Residents in Central Brooklyn including East Flatbush, Farragut and Rugby are disproportionately at risk for forms of treatable cancer. 

These neighborhoods are home to approximately 133,000 people, many of whom live in poverty or are uninsured and are therefore less likely to pursue medical treatment for illnesses like cancer. 

Around 19% of residents in East Flatbush reportedly live in poverty, with 15% being uninsured and 9% reporting going without medical care in the previous 12 months. 

Studies show that those diagnosed earlier with cancer are more likely to survive, have lower treatment morbidity and have better care experiences compared to those diagnoses in later stages.

Critically, about 84.2% of the community in Central Brooklyn are Black, a demographic that has historically experienced healthcare inequities. 

Communities with higher rates of poverty, limited access to quality healthcare and higher under-insured rates are therefore far more likely to have higher rates of cancer-related deaths.

Under the new hematology-oncology partnership, medical education and clinical services will be provided at both Maimonides Health and SUNY Downstate, allowing more residents access to this critical care. 

“We are capitalizing on opportunities to optimally align our resources in ways that allow us to expand our footprint and provide learning and teaching experiences for our medical teams, including students,” said SUNY Downstate president Wayne J. Riley, M.D. “Collaborations like this are key factors in growing patient access and providing timely care.”

Experts involved with the new partnership hope that this expansion will grant further access to treatments to more Central Brooklynites, ultimately saving lives of those at high risk.

“Our partnership with Maimonides allows us to remain competitive in an ever-changing healthcare environment while growing respective patient bases and enhancing areas of expertise,” University Hospital at Downstate chief executive officer David H. Berger, M.D. said. “However, more than anything, this partnership is a win for our patient community.”

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso championed the new partnership, saying the borough was “at its best” when there is collaboration.

“Working hand in hand, Maimonides and Downstate are bringing a holistic approach to cancer care to an underserved community where socioeconomic barriers combine with racial inequities in health,” said Reynoso. “It’s precisely intentional partnerships like these that will begin to close the gap in health outcomes for our Black and Brown communities.”