New York Community Hospital on Kings Highway in Midwood was officially renamed Maimonides Midwood Community Hospital on Friday as the massive namesake medical center in Borough Park seeks to expand its reach within its home borough.
The renaming of Community Hospital, which opened in 1929 and has had a number of names and affiliations since then, represents what executives deem the final step in a long-stewing integration between the two southern Brooklyn medical centers, which began collaborating in 2018 and announced an effective merger in 2020, right as the coronavirus began pummeling local hospitals. The merger was officially announced last July.
Concurrently, Maimonides on Friday announced a rebranding of sorts, unveiling a new hospital network called Maimonides Health which executives say is not aimed at dominating the health care industry, but rather in provisioning effective care specifically to Brooklynites.
“Maimonides Health represents something unique,” said Ken Gibbs, the president and CEO of Maimonides, at the unveiling of Community Hospital’s new name on Friday, March 25. “We are born in Brooklyn, we deliver world-class outcomes in Brooklyn, and we are specifically focused on serving Brooklyn.”
The new hospital network encompasses three southern Brooklyn hospitals: Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park, Maimonides Children’s Hospital across the street from the flagship, and the newly-renamed Maimonides Midwood Community Hospital, plus over 80 outpatient and community clinics across Kings County. The network employs over 7,000 workers and 1,800 doctors, making it one of the largest employers in Brooklyn.
The network is expanding its reach in the city’s most populous borough, with a new Maimonides-branded emergency room set to open later this year at the former Victory Memorial Hospital in Bay Ridge plus a new cancer treatment center just down the block from Community Hospital on deck to open its doors as well.
“Many hospitals are shrinking, the number of hospitals are shrinking. Communities are being left without service,” said Gene Keilin, Maimonides’ board chair. “We’re not. We’re expanding.”
Maimonides is also launching an ad campaign called “My Home, My Choice, Maimonides” aimed at convincing Brooklynites to seek health care in their backyard at Community Hospital rather than heading to Manhattan to receive care at a fancy, name-brand medical establishment.
That’s largely to convince the most lucrative patients — those with private insurance — to stay in Brooklyn for their treatment, as private insurance reimburses hospitals at higher rates than Medicaid; “safety-net hospitals,” like the city’s public hospital system and Maimonides, which disproportionately serve patients on Medicaid, are consistently in financial throes while larger networks like Mount Sinai and New York-Presbyterian remain on more stable fiscal footing.
“If you have a stroke, if you have a heart attack, if you ever have that situation, you want to get care quickly,” said Barry Stern, Community Hospital’s CEO, in an interview with Brooklyn Paper. “So sometimes, people just need to be comfortable that they have the kind of expertise here. And Maimonides has tremendous physicians.”
The pandemic only made these problems worse for safety-net hospitals, as the primarily low-income populations they serve inundated emergency rooms as COVID-19 patients. Executives say Community Hospital has administered more monoclonal antibody treatment during the pandemic than any hospital in the state.
Gibbs nonetheless said that the launch of their new network is not intended to help Maimonides “compete” with the larger citywide hospital networks, necessarily. Nonetheless, as more and more hospitals come under the fold of a larger network — and independent hospitals become rarer and rarer — Gibbs said that creating a network allows for the sharing of institutional resources and knowledge in a way that improves care outcomes all over the borough.
“It’s not about competition,” Gibbs told Brooklyn Paper. “But yes, there is a notion of networks. And that’s what we ourselves are doing, which is to meet what patients really need, which is the full range of services under one umbrella. And that’s what we offered to the citizens of this part of Brooklyn and to larger Brooklyn.”
The integration will in short order bring advancements in care to Midwood, executives say: Community Hospital, which has 134 beds and specializes in acute care, will next week begin excavating space for its first-ever MRI machine. The going-rate for the imaging machine is about $2 million a pop, Stern said, plus the cost of excavation. “It’s a real commitment,” Stern said. “But if someone comes in here with a stroke, they’re gonna have their imaging done on the spot.”
Community Hospital opened in 1929 as Madison Park Hospital, and has seen a slew of changes to its name and affiliation over its 93-year history. It was originally affiliated with Adelphi College and later with the Jacques Loewe Foundation until eventually becoming Community Hospital, the name it operated under when it filed for bankruptcy in the 1970s and was forced to scale down its operations, though it never closed despite the suggestion of a state board a few years later. The hospital entered into an affiliation with New York-Presbyterian in the 1990s, a partnership that came to an end in 2016, and has been affiliated with Maimonides since 2018.