Saint Joseph’s Medical Center: Building on a Legacy of Community-focused Care

By Josh Garcia
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A neighborhood landmark for 130 years, Saint Joseph’s Medical Center continues to respond to the needs of patients in Westchester County and the Bronx by broadening its services, improving technology and promoting a high level of clinical expertise.

Saint Joseph’s Medical Center has changed in significant ways since its founding in 1888, but it has never altered its commitment to providing excellent care that tracks closely with the needs of the community it serves. That is evident in its recently formed clinical affiliation with Montefiore Health System, its earlier acquisition of St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester, its expansion of key service lines, and its plans for further expansions and renovations in the coming months and years. Every change that Saint Joseph’s Medical Center has made and continues to make is in service to its mission.

“Our mission has remained the same over the course of 130 years,” says Michael J. Spicer, FACHE, President and CEO of Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, Yonkers. “It is to provide quality care for all those in need in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.”

Saint Joseph’s Medical Director James Neuendorf, MD, (center) meets with chiefs and directors of service. From left: James Jen, MD, Chief of Vascular Surgery; Louis Rose, MD, Chief of Orthopedic Surgery; Sonia Velez, MD, Program Director of Family Medicine Residency; Anthony Leno, DO, Director of Emergency Services; and Dean Harlam, MD, Director of Psychiatry

Strategic Partnerships, Comprehensive Care

Saint Joseph’s Medical Center and Montefiore Health System announced their clinical affiliation in 2015. This partnership allows Saint Joseph’s Medical Center to expand the scope of advanced care that area residents can access locally.

“Saint Joseph’s Medical Center is able to provide most of the care necessary for the community,” Spicer says. “If there are cases that require additional care, we can transfer them to Montefiore Health System in the Bronx. This arrangement allows us to keep patients local, providing them with options that are only minutes away.”

Dr. Leno and Pablita Baccol, RN, attend to a patient in Saint Joseph’s emergency room.

The affiliation with Montefiore Health System is only the latest in a long line of patient-centered decisions made by Saint Joseph’s Medical Center to expand its offerings to the community.

In 2010, Saint Joseph’s Medical Center purchased St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester in Harrison, a 138-bed psychiatric facility with inpatient services and numerous outpatient behavioral health programs throughout Westchester and New York City. These programs include mental health clinics, opioid treatment centers, and residential and housing options for patients living with mental illness or substance abuse disorders. The addition of St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester has turned Saint Joseph’s Medical Center into one of the most comprehensive behavioral health networks in the state, with campuses in both Yonkers and Harrison.

Beyond the services offered at St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester, Saint Joseph’s Medical Center also has multiple psychiatric inpatient programs, 43 psychiatric beds, a mental health clinic, psychiatric emergency services, and a crisis prevention and response team at its Yonkers campus. Behavioral health services at both campuses are continually reviewed so they can be tailored to community requirements. For example, the mobile crisis prevention and response team recently expanded its schedule to meet a community need.

“We added weekend availability within the past year,” Spicer says. “If the need is there, we dedicate resources to providing that service.”

Renovation, Innovation and Integration

Thanks to federal and state government initiatives to foster integrated delivery of health care in New York state, Saint Joseph’s Medical Center will be receiving additional resources to move forward on multiple renovation and expansion projects over the coming year and a half, such as adding behavioral health crisis respite beds to the Harrison campus at St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester.

Members of Saint Joseph’s operating team. From left: Alan Go, MD, Chief of General Surgery; Steven Doh, MD, Director of Anesthesiology; and Nayel Sayegh, MD, Director of Surgery and Chief of Urology

Another upcoming project is a complete makeover of Saint Joseph’s Medical Center’s Emergency Department. The department will include an advanced triage area, psychiatric care area, acute care ER, psychiatric ER and extended primary care center. Building the extended primary care center adjacent to the ER will allow Saint Joseph’s Medical Center to easily redirect patients who may not require emergency services.

“Many of our renovation projects are aimed at reducing avoidable ER visits, which can be very costly for patients,” Spicer says. “Some patients may be receiving treatment in the ER when they could be going to primary care or receiving outpatient care. We want to make sure they’re treated in the most appropriate and cost-effective setting.”

The renovations, acquisitions and clinical affiliations all share the objective of reducing ER admissions by 25 percent over a five-year period. A large part of this initiative includes creating approximately 240 new supportive-housing apartments in Yonkers, Manhattan and the Bronx.

“In Yonkers, we’ll begin construction on an 80-apartment complex with behavioral health-supportive and affordable housing,” Spicer says. “We’re also working on a building with 65 units of supportive primary care and affordable housing for the frail and elderly.”

These units serve multiple functions, with behavioral health-supportive housing allowing residents to more easily receive outpatient behavioral health services. Primary care supportive-housing units serve a similar function, making it convenient for residents to receive the outpatient care they need. Residents are employed, pay rent and give back to the community.

Further renovation projects include adding 2,000 square feet to the Saint Joseph’s Family Health Center for new waiting rooms, exam rooms and a reception area. More importantly, new IT systems will be installed at the Family Health Center and other locations to better facilitate communication and coordination between providers in and outside of the system.

“The new IT systems will enhance our ability to integrate primary care, specialty care and behavioral health care throughout the hospital system,” Spicer says. “They will provide better, more informative EHRs as patients move not only through our system, but through the integrated healthcare system that is forming.”

New Technologies and Services

Saint Joseph’s Medical Center is acquiring other technology to enhance services as well. A new 128-slice CT scanner will be installed in the next six months to assist physicians in diagnosing their patients and improve imaging services.

Saint Joseph’s Medical Center has a legacy of providing advanced tools to its physicians. For example, it upgraded its special procedure operating room three years ago. The operating room is especially important for the Vascular Surgery Department, which uses it for complicated arterial and vascular surgeries.

As Saint Joseph’s Medical Center grows, so does its ability to offer new programs to the community. In addition to renovating and expanding existing care centers, the system has finished construction on a wound care center for patients with non-healing and persistent wounds. The new Center for Advanced Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center includes two hyperbaric units, three treatment rooms, and a renovated waiting room and registration area. The center is now open and is staffed by providers who are certified to treat complex wounds.

“Saint Joseph’s Medical Center believes that health care is local. We have a relationship with the community that allows us to keep a finger on the public’s pulse. We can quickly determine what the community’s needs are and respond nimbly to better serve our local patients.”
— Michael J. Spicer, FACHE, President and CEO, Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, Yonkers

Recruitment and Residency

While the latest technology and revamped facilities elevate the level of care that Saint Joseph’s Medical Center provides, training and recruitment efforts are also vital to supporting the healthcare system’s greatest resources — its physicians and staff.

Michael Spicer, President and CEO, and members of the hospital’s medical staff. Standing, from left: Richard Khalil, MD, primary care physician; Dr. Jen; Caridad Fresneda, MD, primary care physician; Dr. Harlam; Dr. Neuendorf; and Dr. Velez. Seated, from left: Dr. Leno; Mauricio Valdes, MD, attending nephrologist; Dr. Rose; and Spicer

“We consistently reach out to local physicians to let them know they have an eager, competent partner in helping provide the best care possible for their patients,” Spicer says. “We want to assist physicians in being the best they can be, regardless of their affiliation, and we’re always looking to recruit new physicians to our institution.”

One program that has contributed to the organization’s talent base is the New York Medical College at Saint Joseph’s Family Medicine Residency Program, which receives approximately 3,000 applications annually. The Residency Program began almost 40 years ago, with sponsorship provided by New York Medical College for the past 15 years.

New York Medical College provides resources that allow Saint Joseph’s Medical Center to continuously train 30 residents at a time. Ten residents graduate from the program every year, with many graduates going on to become successful family physicians in Westchester County — both at Saint Joseph’s and other local healthcare organizations — and throughout the United States.

“We have about 30 graduates from the program on our staff,” Spicer says. “Even if they don’t stay at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, many of them stay in the area and provide quality care to the community. As primary care physicians, they are gatekeepers for the entire spectrum of care provided to our local patients.”

A Brief History of Saint Joseph’s Medical Center

The Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul of New York — now more commonly known as the Sisters of Charity of New York — founded Saint Joseph’s Hospital in 1888. The building was erected on South Broadway in Yonkers. An on-site, long-term-care nursing home was added to the hospital in 1977.

The original building stood for 91 years before being demolished to make way for a new Saint Joseph’s facility in 1979. The hospital continued to expand over the years, adding a primary care clinic on South Broadway and numerous outpatient programs throughout Westchester County and the Bronx. Among these additions were an imaging center on Corlear Avenue and a cardiovascular center on Yonkers Avenue.

Though today it is part of a much larger, integrated system of services and locations, what is now known as Saint Joseph’s Medical Center is still located on South Broadway in Yonkers and is the last standing Catholic acute care hospital in Westchester County and the five boroughs of New York City.

Saint Joseph’s Medical Center has a 130-year tradition of meeting the community’s healthcare needs with clinical excellence, while maintaining the dignity of each patient.

Beyond Bricks and Mortar

Educational and community outreach efforts extend well beyond the walls of Saint Joseph’s facilities. Both the YonkerSpectrum School Health Program (YSHP) and Saint Joseph’s School-Based Rehab Program cater to schoolchildren in the Yonkers community.

YSHP began in 1989 and provides primary care to children in five Yonkers public schools. Nurse practitioners and health facilitators are located on-site at schools to address children’s health needs and provide health education classes.

The School-Based Rehab Program focuses on providing consultation, classroom modifications, and occupational and physical therapy to Yonkers schoolchildren who may require special assistance. Physical and occupational therapists aid in improving the quality of life for children with disabilities so that they can better focus on their education.

“Saint Joseph’s Medical Center is more than just a set of buildings and healthcare providers,” Spicer says. “We are a working part of the neighborhood that can assist the community at all levels, both clinically and educationally. We work with local political leaders, the Department of Education and the Department of Health to look after the overall well-being of the community.”

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