Mount Sinai, Columbia University medical centers join forces
By Scott E. Pacheco
Miami Beach's Mount Sinai Medical Center and New York's Columbia University Medical Center have entered into a strategic partnership to improve cardiology services in South Florida as well as bolster the hospital's bottom line.
"The last year was a profitable year for Mount Sinai Medical Center," said Steve Sonenreich, CEO. "The hospital has had substantial financial challenges over the last several years. We believe the new leadership in our cardiovascular program played a very important role in our financial turnaround."
The Mount Sinai Heart Institute is in the hospital's campus at 4300 Alton Road. The old heart institute at 4701 N Meridian Ave. currently houses Mount Sinai's rehab program, though the structure is up for sale, Mr. Sonenreich said.
The new partnership, to be officially announced today (1/7), has actually been in the works about a year as officials from both Columbia and Mount Sinai, including Dr. Tony Lamas, chief of cardiology and co-director of the Mount Sinai Heart Institute, worked out details and instituted a system of collaboration.
Now that the house is getting in order, announcement of the program is appropriate, Mr. Sonenreich said.
As the economy struggles to rebound, he said, the next movement in healthcare will include more strategic partnerships.
"The most recent era of healthcare has been all about competition," Mr. Sonenreich said. "The next area in healthcare is an era of collaboration. Being a mission-driven organization, our interest is how do we deliver the best possible care to our community."
From a healthcare service perspective, the partnership will pay off on multiple levels, he said, especially since Columbia is considered a "top 10" program in the country.
"Mount Sinai has always been the leader in South Florida in terms of treating cardiovascular disease," he said, adding that the theme of the new partnership is the "best getting better."
Among benefits Columbia offers are Ivy League credentials and the draw of a top institution in a major metropolitan city, which helps Mount Sinai improve the quality of recruits who will choose South Florida, Dr. Lamas said.
"Although it seems almost trivial, that has a tremendous amount of downstream effect," he said. "Rotating our fellows up there makes us a more appealing fellowship. Most cardiologists that have stayed within the community have trained within the community."
Already in the past year South Florida patients have gone to Columbia and vice-versa. Also, Dr. Lamas and Columbia's Chief of Cardiology Dr. Allan Schwartz make monthly visits to each other's campuses and "new academic programs" are in the works, Dr. Lamas said.
"That kind of cross-fertilization is tremendous in teaching us different ways to looking at things," he said, adding that now the two parties are in "the final steps of getting our cardiology fellows to beginning formal rotations at Columbia."
Other benefits to patients Mount Sinai cites include:
—South Floridians will get coordinated access to physicians and surgeons at Columbia University Medical Center.
—Innovative research protocols and treatment options are available to patients.
—Knowledge, technology and research will be shared.
For patients, the bridge between Mount Sinai and Columbia University will facilitate a positive experience in moving back and forth between institutions.
Said Mr. Sonenreich: "Ultimately with the implementation of electronic health records this is all going to be very seamless for these individuals."