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Public Hospital Near Privatizing Dialysis Service

Alan Aviles, HHC's president, defends privatization of dialysis services.
Alan Aviles, HHC’s president, defends privatization of dialysis services.

February 25, 2014
By Marc Bussanich 

New York, NY—The New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council is set to vote soon on whether to allow the nation’s largest public hospital, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, to privatize its dialysis services. HHC’s president said privatization is necessary to save money, but opponents say privatization will jeopardize patients. Video

Councilmember Corey D. Johnson, the chairman of the City Council Committee on Health, said the upcoming vote by the state planning council is a mere formality as the hospital already voted for the privatization deal with Atlantic Dialysis more than a year ago.

But HHC’s president, Alan D. Aviles, took exception to that characterization of the vote.

“I would not characterize what [the planning council] does as a mere formality. The fact that they requested additional submissions [pertaining to data on Atlantic’s performance] speaks to how seriously they take any of these things that appear before them whether they are the voice for final approval or not,” said Aviles.

The councilmember then asked Mr. Aviles to confirm whether two members of the state planning council that recused themselves from a previous vote on the matter have a direct stake in Atlantic Dialysis.

The New York Times reported in a February 12 story that planning council members Dr. Jodumutt Ganesh Bhata and Howard Fensterman are the co-owner and lawyer for Atlantic.

“I believe one principal have sat on that committee. From my perspective it reflects the fact that he is held in high regard by the people in the profession,” replied Aviles.

The New York State Nurses Association, which represents nurses at HHC, testified before the Council that privatizing dialysis services would be catastrophic for patients.

Anne Bove, president of NYSNA’s HHC executive council, said Atlantic has a poor track record.

“The adjusted death rate of patients at [Atlantic’s] associated clinics was 24 percent higher than at the four HHC facilities that are being sold. That’s for a period covering four years, from 2009 to 2012, the most recent data from the federal government.”

In an interview, Leon Bell, NYSNA’s political director, said about HHC’s plan to restructure in order to close a budget gap is they are increasingly acting like private, for-profit corporations.

“The system is pushing them in that direction, and it’s time for us to change the system. It’s not acceptable. It’s not working and it’s time for a new approach.”

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