In Little Neck, a big deal for diagnostic testing

Testing, testing: Northwell Health's 36,000-square-foot, $47.7 million molecular diagnostics lab, coming soon to Little Neck.

A state-of-the-art molecular-diagnostics laboratory is coming to the Queens-Nassau border.

The Northwell Health system on Thursday announced groundbreaking on a $47.7 million “shared lab” in Little Neck, a “centralized facility” designed to improve laboratory efficiency and reduce costs throughout the Northwell system.

The 36,000-square-foot laboratory will primarily perform microbiology tests, including molecular diagnostics from local hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices. It will stock “the latest technology and advanced robotic testing systems,” according to Northwell Health, which will cover the $47.7 million investment itself.

The lab will be the backbone of the Clinical Laboratory of New York Alliance, formed in 2014 by Northwell Health – then the North Shore-LIJ Health System – and NYC Health+Hospitals, an integrated system of New York City-based hospitals, neighborhood clinics and nursing homes.

As part of the alliance, NYC Health+Hospitals will consolidate its four core lab operations – responsible for some 15 million annual tests – in Little Neck, which is poised to become a vital cog in a Northwell Laboratories network that already processes some 30 million tests annually.

The new laboratory will be staffed by employees from both health systems and “no layoffs are anticipated from the consolidation,” Northwell said in a statement.

The goal is “consolidating and streamlining the operations of the two health systems,” Northwell added, and the prize is a predicted $30 million in joint annual savings.

Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling trumpeted an “exciting, mutually beneficial partnership.”

“This provides a unique opportunity to standardize the quality and performance of lab services, benefitting patients in our community and the entire metropolitan area while achieving cost savings for both organizations,” Dowling said Tuesday.

Stanley Brezenoff, interim president and CEO at NYC Health+Hospitals, said the partnership would “achieve greater efficiencies through a shared, centralized lab and realize substantial cost savings annually.”

“Northwell Health has extensive experience operating a nationally recognized core lab for its own large health system,” Brezenoff said in a statement. “[It] has achieved impressive standards in terms of speed and accuracy while maintaining a strong focus on patient service.”

The Little Neck laboratory, which is scheduled to open in mid-2018, isn’t the first collaboration between the two health systems. In June 2016, Northwell Health assumed day-to-day lab operations for NYC Health+Hospitals/Coney Island, a 371-bed acute-care hospital in Brooklyn. And in 2014, Northwell began receiving NYC Health+Hospitals reference testing – an arrangement forecasted to yield $6 million in FY2017 savings to NYC Health+Hospitals.

That makes sense, according to James Crawford, Northwell Health’s pathology chairman and executive director of laboratory services, who said “lab services are an ideal area for health systems to combine efforts.”

“As we align analytical, information and logistics systems to seamlessly interface with one another, we can optimize the diagnostic services supporting patient care across both of our health systems,” Crawford said.


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