Northwell looks north with Syracuse affiliation

Northern exposure: Crouse Hospital, the last independent hospital in Syracuse, is joining the Northwell Health system.

Northwell Health has picked up another one.

The Board of Directors at Crouse Hospital, the backbone of a two-hospital, 3,300-employee health system based in Syracuse, has approved a clinical affiliation with the New Hyde Park-based healthcare giant. The alliance adds an upstate strategic partner to a health system that already ranks as New York State’s busiest medical services provider and, with more than 61,000 staffers, the state’s largest private employer.

Crouse Hospital, the last independent hospital in the City of Syracuse, will continue to operate independently and maintain its existing internal governance. But through its affiliation with Community Memorial Hospital in nearby Hamilton Village, its combined 900-strong medical staff and its private Pomeroy College of Nursing, it will help the downstate titan “identify other opportunities to fill the critical health needs of the 15-county area” Crouse serves in Central and Northern New York, according to Northwell Health.

Crouse Hospital President and CEO Kimberly Boynton said the Crouse Health system, which ranks as a top-10 Central New York employer and the region’s largest provider of maternity care, has spent the last two years engaged in merger discussions with “multiple organizations, both locally and regionally,” part of a “thoughtful and focused process” to strengthen its strategic position.

“Among the key criteria our board, physician leadership and senior leadership team used to evaluate potential partners was a strong alignment and compatibility with the Crouse culture as well as our mission, which is to provide the best in patient care and promote community health,” Boynton said in a statement. “We were steadfast that whichever partner we chose to align with had to be in sync not only with our mission, but with our core values.

“We have that in Northwell.”

Kimberly Boynton: Shared values.

With 21 hospitals and some 550 outpatient facilities already under the Northwell Health flag, the Long Island-based health system cares for more than 2 million patients annually in the Metropolitan New York region alone. Adding Crouse Health to the mix “creates a key strategic alliance in a major upstate hub with a high-quality, financially stable, mission-focused provider,” according to Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling.

“Northwell Health is thrilled by the opportunity to partner with Crouse Health,” Dowling said Tuesday. “Working together, our goal is to provide Crouse Health with the expertise to prosper in this incredibly complex healthcare environment, and collaborate with the hospital to help improve the health of Central New York residents, which is at the heart of our mission in the New York metropolitan area.”

The new alliance will also “enhance” Crouse Hospital’s existing relationship with Community Memorial Hospital, Northwell Health said.

Established in 1887, Crouse Hospital is a 506-bed, nonprofit medical center serving more than 23,000 inpatients, 82,000 emergency patients and 250,000 outpatients annually. It’s a state-designated regional referral center for high-risk neonatal intensive-care services and operates one of the nation’s largest ambulatory surgery programs, with two major surgery centers located near the hospital’s main complex – one that has been in operation since 1976 and a 90,000-square-foot, 18-operating-suite center that opened in 2010.

Crouse Health’s other clinical specialties include neurosciences/stroke care and comprehensive diagnostic and interventional cardiac care, including Central New York’s only pediatric cardiac catheterization program.

While Crouse Health gives its new partner an upstate foothold, Northwell Health plans to help Crouse expand its primary care network and develop new care-management programs and services “that will position the hospital and its affiliates to meet the challenges of population health,” according to Northwell.

Its New Hyde Park partner will also help Crouse Health with purchasing, physician recruitment and other quality-improvement initiatives, including “the possible creation of urgent-care centers and the sharing of other best practices to increase clinical and operational efficiencies,” Northwell Health said.