Simone Healthcare Development: We Share Your Vision

Friday, January 3, 2014

Simone Healthcare Development understands the changes impacting physicians and healthcare executives, making this healthcare real estate firm an excellent strategic partner for medical organizations as they build, repurpose and grow.

“We are seeing a tremendous shift in the healthcare industry,” says Guy Leibler, President, Simone Healthcare Development. “We have reached a point of focused, specialized care to manage costs and improve the patient experience.”

Several trends in health care have intersected to create this new, tight focus on cost savings and patient environment, Leibler continues. The Affordable Care Act has hastened healthcare providers, hospitals and physicians toward pay-for-performance versus fee-for-service billing, meaning healthcare providers must maximize their performance in terms of patient outcomes to see rewards. Insurance companies are becoming more likely to scrutinize whether treatments are necessary and what services are provided, and many are rewarding favorable patient outcomes.

Patients are becoming more geared toward seeing specialty physicians within large medical groups and visiting ambulatory facilities for many forms of outpatient care, including infusions, radiology and many surgeries. The individual practitioner and community hospitals are feeling a loss of volume.

In response, healthcare development companies such as Simone have focused their efforts on creating environments optimized to move patients efficiently and comfortably through medical facilities, in locations near where they work and live.

Groundbreaking 750
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Oct. 9 for the 3030 Westchester Ave. medical office building in Purchase, N.Y. From left are Joseph Simone, President, Simone Development Companies; Simeon Schwartz, MD, President and CEO, WESTMED Medical Group; Barney Newman, MD, Medical Director, WESTMED Medical Group; Guy Leibler, President, Simone Healthcare Development; Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino; Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont; John Fareri, President, Fareri Associates, Simone’s partner in the 3030 project; and Cathie Schaffer, Tri-state Regional President, First Niagara, which provided financing for the project.

“I recall going to my physician some years ago and being sent for an X-ray,” Leibler says. “The radiologist was located 5 miles away. In today’s medical environment, patients with doctors in multispecialty medical groups will move from one service to another, from internist to specialist or imaging center to laboratory area within the same facility. Records travel digitally through electronic medical records, so patients are not carrying medical documents through the halls. Healthcare providers are now able to provide care more efficiently and pleasantly while reducing the opportunity for mistakes or missed care.”

In the New York metro area, for example, it is not unusual for a physician practice composed of 50 or 100 physicians to form an office, resulting in centers of care where patients rarely leave the building or complex for any of their medical needs. Simone Healthcare Development partners with physician groups to build the sophisticated facilities they require.

Simeon Schwartz, MD: A Therapeutic Environment
“Right now, medicine is undergoing a major transformation. We are moving from a hospital-centric to an ambulatory care-centric model. What this means is we need to build new, large and dynamic facilities to accommodate this change in health care. Simone has been an important partner with us in building this kind of facility, getting ready for the fundamental change in health care. The patient experience is a very important part of today’s health care. And it is the right experience, the right ambiance, the right involvement that make patients feel they are in a therapeutic atmosphere.”
— Simeon Schwartz, MD, President and CEO, WESTMED Medical Group

Another trend driving changes in healthcare real estate is the movement away from lengthy hospital inpatient stays. Instead, ambulatory centers are becoming more common. Here, too, cost and service are key factors, as many procedures no longer require an overnight stay because technology has revolutionized care.

“Health care is rapidly moving from inpatient to ambulatory,” Leibler says. “One reason for this is efficiency. Insurance companies will not reimburse for a hospital visit that may be completed at an ambulatory facility. And any patient would prefer an ambulatory visit to an inpatient stay. This healthcare shift represents a move to better, more organized care, and it is less costly for patients both in time and money.

“We work with our medical partners to make sure all the different components are organized from every perspective. The end of the equation is an outstanding program, excellent facility and high-quality care at a price the insurance companies will reimburse to the provider and/or patient.”

Robert Glazer, MD: An Elegant Environment for Our Patients
“Joe [Simone] is the kind of developer who wants to be ahead of the curve. He wants to know what I’m thinking, and he’s out there looking for a style of property that meets my needs. When he comes to my practice with a proposed property, I sit down with a team to decide how we can work with him and his team of architects and designers to build out that space.”
— Robert Glazer, MD, CEO, ENT & Allergy Associates

A Process That Works

When a healthcare organization initiates a project with Simone Healthcare Development, finding the right location is the first item of discussion. Joseph Simone, President, Simone Development Companies, compares the search for a good healthcare property to the selection of an excellent retail development location.

“Exposure and access are important,” he says. “We want our clients to be easily seen and have good accessibility. In a suburban market, abundant parking is very important. And of course, where available, public transportation is very important.

“For a multitenant client, we will present a few different buildings, depending on the market, and discuss needs and priorities,” Simone says. “We consider everything required to be successful, from the financial structure to design and construction aspects, and we execute everything as the service provider. From there, clients may grow in the existing building or move on to their own facility.”

Larger clients may choose to move into their own buildings, whether opting for new construction or purchasing and renovating existing structures. Simone assists healthcare providers to pinpoint their patient base through data analysis, assisting the providers with strategic decisions about relocation and expansion. Simone Healthcare professionals work with municipalities to navigate zoning and planning approvals.

Finding a property is only the first step. Healthcare subspecialty organizations, hospitals and physician groups require funding to create the best practice environment for their patients. That includes not only obtaining land or existing structures but also making capital improvements and ensuring that buildings are amenable to the practice’s needs — that they can safely house radiological equipment, for example. Simone Healthcare Development understands that healthcare organizations would prefer to invest funds in programs and people rather than facilities. For that reason, they provide the capital for purchasing and developing property.

Guy Leibler and Joseph Simone
Guy Leibler (left), President of Simone Healthcare Development, and Joseph Simone, President of Simone Development Companies, review construction plans at the company’s headquarters in the Bronx.

“This is a big benefit we bring to hospitals,” Leibler says. “We finance their growth. In this day of challenged resources, it is more important for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to use capital for their medical programs, technologies and staffing. This way they do not have to draw on their capital or borrow.”

Once a property has been secured, Simone’s engineers, architects and designers, along with legal and finance experts, work with medical clients to craft the patient experience. Gone are the days of tiled walls, linoleum floors and fluorescent lighting. In addition to securing required compliances for medical buildings, Simone Healthcare Development creates an environment of peace and comfort for patients and physicians alike. Efficient patient flow through the building is paired with an atmosphere of serenity.

“We usually find ourselves going to the doctor when we are not feeling well,” Leibler says. “Our design strategy is about having patients achieve a comfortable experience. It’s a big change compared to walking into a hospital environment and feeling overwhelmed.”

Architect Rendering
Architect’s rendering of the nursing station at Montefiore’s new Ambulatory Surgical Center at the Hutchinson Metro Center

“We want to create an environment that is inviting,” Simone says. “We design inviting lobby spaces and interesting waiting areas, similar to a five-star hotel.”

In managed care, physicians, more than ever, have a financial as well as personal stake in being part of patients’ health for the long term. Patients can become expensive if they miss visits or treatments, fluctuate between providers, or return to the emergency room shortly after hospital discharge. Attractive design that makes patients feel “at home” in a medical setting has the potential to play a large part in patient loyalty and retention.

Once the project begins, Simone Healthcare Development can complete a property in about 12 months when renovating an existing structure, or 18 months for new construction. As landlord, Simone will orchestrate every detail of the building’s nonmedical operations.

“We manage large and small details, from managing key contracts to ensuring the property is ready for use each day,” Simone says.

The ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship ensures physicians can invest their time and money in doing what they need to do: caring for patients. Simone Healthcare Development’s leadership team repeatedly mentions the joy they feel in helping provide the public with needed healthcare services.

“Bringing state-of-the-art, convenient health care to communities that are not served today is very fulfilling to us,” Simone says. “That is our focus and what we do.”

“I have been in the real estate industry for 35 years and in the healthcare environment for 25 years,” Leibler says. “It is a special relationship when you see people visit your properties who you understand are in need of different kinds of care. It is rewarding to know we are providing them with a safe environment and an organized, efficient means of getting care without going from one building to another or one town to another. You feel great when you can run a successful business, work hard, enjoy it and deliver something back to the community, your friends and neighbors, and even people you don’t know — when you can make their day a little better when they need it most.”

From medical office buildings to hospitals to mixed-use medical and retail spaces, this spirit of efficiency and exuberance comes out in the design of four new Simone Healthcare Development properties: Montefiore Medical Center’s Ambulatory Surgical Center at the Hutchinson Metro Center in the Bronx, the Metro Center Atrium mixed-use complex in the Bronx, WESTMED Medical Group’s new medical office building in Purchase and Montefiore Medical Center’s outpatient facility in Riverdale.

Marc Prager, MD: A Major Move, Done Right
“The most monumental task we had was recreating our radiology practice in a new environment. It’s not like moving in desks and shelving and chairs. We’re talking about moving in equipment that weighs up to 83,000 pounds. We needed power. We needed an HVAC system. Joe [Simone] and his development team understood my needs. They understood my concerns with redundancy, because our operation cannot afford to go down. We were able to open our practice again within four months.”
— Marc Prager, MD, President and Medical Director, University Diagnostic Medical Imaging, P.C.

Case Study: Montefiore Medical Center’s Ambulatory Surgical Center

Construction Tower Two
Construction is nearing completion on Tower Two at the Hutchinson Metro Center, where Montefiore Medical Center is leasing the entire 11-story building for its new Ambulatory Surgical Center.

Seeming to float against a backdrop of blue sky, Tower Two at the 42-acre Hutchinson Metro Center in the Bronx will soon be the new home for Montefiore Medical Center’s Ambulatory Surgical Center. Scheduled to open this spring, the 11-story building will contain 280,000 square feet of state-of-the-art medical space leased entirely to Montefiore. It will be the first “bedless” hospital in the nation. For patients who will walk through the doors of the new building, clean white and indigo lines will project confidence and serenity. These patients will be part of a new healthcare experience, one that values environment and efficiency, and — perhaps most rewarding — one that regards hospital stays as day-long events, not overnight sojourns.

The new building, which is located next to the 280,000-square-foot Tower One, will be devoted to outpatient care and include 12 operating rooms, imaging facilities, laboratory and pharmacy services, and specialty and primary care practices. This will be the second major facility occupied by Montefiore at the Hutchinson Metro Center. Montefiore currently occupies 30,000 square feet on the 11th floor of Tower One for its Center for Orthopaedic Specialties.

Montefiore Orthopaedic 250
Montefiore’s Orthopaedic Specialties Department is located on the entire 11th floor of Tower One at the Hutchinson Metro Center.

“Montefiore will offer patient-centered, multidisciplinary care at a hospital without beds, bringing the health care of tomorrow to patients from the Bronx and beyond,” Steven Safyer, MD, President and CEO, Montefiore Medical Center. “We are reshaping outpatient care and expanding treatment options to improve results and speed recovery.”

“This day hospital model is the future of medicine,” says Leibler. “Any kind of procedure that does not require an overnight or multiday stay can be performed in this building. We expect to see more of these buildings replace traditional hospitals over the next decade.”

Steven Safyer, MD: A Transformative Vision
“We have gone through a transformation in the last six years. We now view ourselves as a healthcare provider. Joseph Simone and his team are doing everything they can to absorb what we’re trying to put into play here. In many ways, they know how to translate our ideas in ways that other developers might not think about. They hear the ideas, and then they put them into action.”
— Steven Safyer, MD, President and CEO, Montefiore Medical Center

Case Study: The Metro Center Atrium

Construction Metro Center 250
Construction underway for the new Metro Center Atrium, a 300,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex at the Hutchinson Metro Center that will feature medical office space as well as a 125-room Marriott Residence Inn and a 45,000-square-foot LA Fitness center

Located as part of the Hutchinson Metro Center campus, the Metro Center Atrium mixed-use development combines medical, office and retail space with a 45,000-square-foot LA Fitness Center and a 125-room Marriott Residence Inn. The 300,000-square-foot complex, which is scheduled to open this spring, is the latest addition to the Hutchinson Metro Center, which is home to more than 30 medical practices and healthcare-related companies.

“We have created a little city at the Hutchinson Metro Center,” Simone says. “This section of the Bronx has a cluster of five major hospitals less than a mile from our complex. There is a huge demand for hotel space due to the hospitals and surrounding businesses. There is also a need for retail to support patients, families and employees. The Metro Center Atrium is designed to meet that demand. It’s quite an interesting complex.”

Health care creates population clusters, forging opportunities for food service, housing, retail and other industries that cater to the new population, Simone explains.

“We believe health care will be an anchor in real estate development for many years,” he says. “Whether medical, retail or senior care, opportunities will only continue to grow.”

Case Study: WESTMED Medical Group Office Building

Construction Westchester Ave 250
Construction underway on 3030 Westchester Ave. in Purchase, N.Y., an 85,000-square- foot, state-of-the-art medical office building to be fully occupied by WESTMED Medical Group

Among the latest Simone Healthcare Development properties is an 85,000- square-foot medical building it is developing for WESTMED Medical Group at 3030 Westchester Ave. in Purchase, N.Y. Simone and partner Fareri Associates of Greenwich broke ground on the new building in October. Located on Westchester’s “Platinum Mile,” the building will house WESTMED’s practices in obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, gastroenterology, allergy and neurology. Imaging facilities, surgical suites and sleep laboratories will also make up part of the facility. WESTMED is expected to open its doors in early 2015.

This medical office building will join existing facilities in the Harrison Executive Medical Park, a beautifully landscaped campus with ample parking, access to public transportation, a cafe and elegant interiors. The complex offers medical practices such as WESTMED a highly visible location with easy access to major highways and nearby medical institutions, including White Plains Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, New York-Presbyterian’s White Plains campus and Westchester Medical Center.

WESTMED’s new medical building will also be a boon to the local economy, creating 600 construction jobs and an estimated 1,000 permanent positions to follow in the healthcare office building.

Case Study: Montefiore Outpatient Facility in Riverdale

Simone Healthcare Development is always building into the future. Case in point: an 11-story outpatient facility it plans to build for Montefiore Medical Center in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Part of an expansion by Montefiore, the new development will model the move to deliver care to patients near their homes.

“Close to downtown Manhattan, this facility exemplifies a way to bring medical services to the community,” Leibler says. “This type of full-service medical building is another way a large hospital system can deliver medical care closer to patients.”

The 93,000-square-foot building is scheduled to be completed in early 2016.

Simeon Schwartz, MD: Making Space, Magically
“What has been most impressive about Simone Healthcare Development is that the company is able to identify space where it would seem that there is none. It’s very easy to find developers who will look for open parcels of land, but in major metropolitan areas, you don’t find those sites on a regular basis. You have to create a site.”
— Simeon Schwartz, MD, President and CEO, WESTMED Medical Group

Lifelong Relationships, Built on Trust

Great partnerships start and end with excellent personal relationships. As a healthcare real estate developer for more than a quarter of a century, Simone Healthcare Development understands how to build and nurture those connections.

“We certainly have great relationships,” Leibler says. “In health care, we are sensitive to the personal and unique aspects of each connection. We are confidants, partners and friends with our healthcare associates, whether CEOs, COOs, real estate managers or physicians. It would be hard to perform without those relationships.”

How are such relationships built and sustained? It starts with openness and excellent communication, Simone says.

“Understanding the clients’ needs and being a good listener is extremely important,” he says. “Our job is really about them — helping them figure out what they need and then delivering it.”

“It is hard to be a physician in today’s environment,” Leibler adds. “We understand the challenges doctors are facing. They see more patients and make less money than they did in the past. Therefore, their operations and facilities must be efficient. Along with others in our industry, we want to work with them to create the best environments and help them develop programs they need to be successful and serve their patients. We believe to the extent that we are able to collaborate with physicians, health care will be improved and physicians will have better opportunities for success in their profession, to the benefit of everyone in the community.”

To start a conversation with Simone Healthcare Development, visit