Nothing is more vital to the success of Community Healthcare Network than the synergy between our clinical and administrative staffs. Synergy, a principal of physics, describes what happens when two or more agents combine to effect a greater change than the sum of their individual parts.
At CHN, synergy means that one plus one can equal three. Our work during 2019 in the East New York section of central Brooklyn is a great example of CHN synergy unleashed.
East New York is one of the most underserved communities in New York City. It is also a community of hope and progress. CHN joins many other organizations looking to accelerate its progress.
It has been just over a year since we opened the doors of our newest health center, the East New York Community Hub, in partnership with friends at the Institute for Community Living, ICL. Earlier in 2018, we demolished CHN’s long-standing East New York Health Center, named in honor of Dr. Betty Shabazz, on Blake Avenue, a mile away from the Hub. The rebuilding of a new Shabazz Health Center is underway, as you can see.
During that construction, CHN is operating a temporary health center on the street in two (not-so-mobile) mobiles and a pre-fabricated office.
At the heart of CHN’s purpose is our clinical care that we bring to our patients. Our clinical staffs at both East New York health centers have soldiered on with passion, led by Dr. Justin Torrente on (literally) Blake Avenue and Colette Russen, at the Hub. These are people of great skill and large hearts.
Day-to-day operations at both sites are overseen by Daryl Johnson, a Center Director at CHN for 15 years. In East New York, as at each of our centers, clinical and operational teams work synergistically, side by side, to supply the essential fuel for serving our patients.
This week, another powerful team came into play to continue making our East New York dream a reality.
Using rough numbers, the new Shabazz Health Center under construction on Blake Avenue will cost us about $10 million. It takes more than a village to raise that money.
For the first time ever, on Tuesday CHN closed a complex financing arrangement known as a New Market Tax Credit deal. It is a federal program that steers private capital into public works – such as Community Health Centers.
Essentially, the tax credit investment brings over $2 million in “free” money to the construction project. That is a big number, but not enough for a $10 million job. Each year, we go to local elected officials who have the ability to make discretionary grants to non-profit organizations serving their communities. Public Policy Manager Kelly Sabatino now coordinates that work for CHN. Thus far, we have collected $3 million in grants from City officials for the Shabazz Center.
Then, after years of pursuit, we also were awarded just over $3 million in capital funds from the New York State sponsored “One Brooklyn” initiative for the Shabazz Center. It is part of a revitalization of the Brooklyn health care system, and CHN is integral to that.
If you are still following, appreciate that this was a complex financial picture. But then oh my gosh, it almost unraveled. The tax credit deal had to close in 2019, or the investors were taking their millions of dollars off the table. Just days before year’s end, two State agencies – the Department of Health and DASNY-the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York – raised multiple questions regarding whether the One Brooklyn grant could be part of a financing package of a project supported by federal tax credits.
To make a long, anxiety-ridden story short, the combination of General Counsel David Gross, and our Finance leadership — Chief Financial Officer Alan Wengrofsky and Controller Ben Clarin — pulled out the stops, got the necessary answers, and gave CHN the confidence to close on the tax credit transaction, with hours to spare on New Year’s Eve.
It is not often that lawyers and accountants get to be heroes, but these guys rocked over this past holiday week. Each of us at CHN plays a critical role, and while we see and cherish the hands-on work providers and others do with our patients, we also are grateful to our colleagues who allow that to happen.
Yes, I want 2020 to be the year of CHN synergy. Let’s embrace not just our own work, but the essential labors of each of our colleagues in other departments at CHN. Make one plus one equal four!
And a Happy New Year for all.