The Healthcare Industry in Westchester Is Booming

The Healthcare Industry in Westchester Is Booming

Even as the pandemic recedes, patients are continuing to use Summit’s telehealth program. “What you saw coming out of COVID was that people didn’t necessarily want to travel,” so the Summit team continues to think about how they can deliver world-class treatment, but close to home, Viceroy adds.

While COVID slowed or halted non-pandemic-related healthcare, momentum is quickly building once again. “What we saw post-COVID was a surge, especially in more surgical procedures, since all of the elective surgeries were on hold,” Viceroy says.

New medical advances are also driving Westchester’s healthcare boom. At White Plains Hospital, innovation is reshaping what types of heart surgeries are possible. “In 2021, we launched a world-class cardiac surgery program with renowned physicians,” explains CEO Susan Fox. Cutting-edge operating rooms and other technologies allowed the hospital to perform its first-ever open-heart surgery, in November of 2021. “The program has had extraordinary patient outcomes that far exceed national benchmarks, including a 100% 30-day survival rate for every patient since the launch of the program,” Fox adds.

Summit Health has substantially expanded its telehealth profile.

Summit Health has substantially expanded its telehealth profile. Courtesy of Summit Health.

White Plains Hospital is also pushing the boundaries of cancer treatment. “We remain committed to providing patients with access to clinical trials and cutting-edge research,” Fox says, noting that the hospital boasts novel diagnostic technology, such as one of the few PET/MRI machines in the state outside of New York City.

Progress treating strokes and neurological issues is also in effect at White Plains Hospital. In 2022, the hospital finished constructing a hybrid operating room complete with a biplane angiography suite. “That will allow us to perform thrombectomies, the most advanced stroke treatment available,” Fox explains, “and we are growing our neuroscience program, including neurointerventional radiology, neurosurgery, and outpatient neurologists.”

At Northern Westchester Hospital, innovation has become the status quo. “A few years ago, we opened two cardiac catheterization labs,” explains David Seligman, deputy western regional executive director of Northwell Health. These facilities — often called “cath labs” — feature highly trained cardiologists, advanced electrophysiology equipment, and rehab programs for coronary artery disease. “Historically, if a patient had come to the ER suffering a cardiac event that had a blockage, a lot of those patients would end up in an ambulance going elsewhere — sometimes to the city,” Seligman explains. “But we can now do that here, on-site, at Northern Westchester. We’ve already had a couple of thousand patients benefit in just a couple of years. It’s a level of service, a level of capability, that wasn’t available previously.”

Northern Westchester Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab.

Northern Westchester Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab. Courtesy of Northwell Health.

In February of this year, the Mount Kisco hospital also became the first facility in the region to offer Aquablation therapy, a novel way to treat lower-urinary-tract symptoms caused by enlarged prostates. Aquablation therapy uses an FDA-approved surgical robot to target and remove prostate tissue.

Meanwhile, at Phelps, Northwell has just introduced an $8.4 million PET and CT scan imaging suite. The 3,700-square-foot facility is a major improvement in diagnostic convenience in the county, providing pain-free and noninvasive methods for organ and tissue study and the early detection of diseases such as lung cancer and breast cancer.

“Patients can now have these treatments in their community,” Seligman explains. “They don’t have to travel into Manhattan and hunt for these things.”

Sometimes innovation doesn’t take the shape of technology. Westchester Medical Center, for example, is also rethinking how it communicates with and serves different communities. “We’ve built the Ally Care Center, which is focused on serving the LGBT community,” Ratner explains. The hospital first began working with the community during the AIDS crisis late last century but has since expanded and rebranded its efforts. Patients at the center can receive HIV treatment but also access sexual health education, peer support groups, and hormone therapy. “We ensure that the LGBT community has a culturally competent set of providers and services that focus on the whole individual,” Ratner says.

Shifting Demographics

Another catalyst for Westchester’s healthcare boom is simple: demand.

“The population is changing,” Ratner explains. “We have a population that is in large part aging. You’re seeing folks who are living longer with more chronic diseases and needing more care.” Indeed, according to data by the nonprofit Westchester Community Foundation, the number of residents over 85 years of age increased 58% between 2016 and 2022, and the number of residents between the ages of 60 and 84 grew by 34%.

Closely linked to this trend are New York’s health insurance policies, which provide some of the most comprehensive Medicare and Medicaid programs in the country. Indeed, New York spends more on Medicaid per person than any other state, according to Lending Tree data, and spent more than $75 billion total in 2021. As a result, New Yorkers — including many Westchester residents — can more easily access and afford healthcare services.

The county’s population has also grown about 5% since 2010, according to census data, and many of those people are very recent additions. “Before the pandemic, almost every county in the Hudson Valley was showing negative growth,” Ratner explains. “But due to folks wanting to get out of the city because of the pandemic, what was negative or flat is now positive growth in many of the counties we serve.”

The expansion of Westchester’s healthcare industry is now the status quo, according to local executives — and the competition among hospitals and medical networks will almost certainly keep it that way. “We’re focused on how to position ourselves for growth and expansion,” Ratner confirms.

And while WMCHealth is building its new tower, White Plains Hospital will be growing too. “Later this year, we will unveil the new Kleinman AFib center, featuring a third cardiac catheterization lab,” Fox says. “The center will support our cardiac electrophysiology program, which offers advanced treatment for a variety of heart conditions.”

Fortunately for Westchester residents, that growth doesn’t mean compromising quality. “For us, it’s always been: ‘How do we take really good care of patients?’” Viceroy says. Fox shares a similar sentiment: “We always say that quality is our North Star.”

Viceroy notes that in recent years, Westchester has been able to stand shoulder to shoulder with every other healthcare hub in the Northeast. “Unlike 10 or 15 years ago, you can get all your healthcare in Westchester,” he says, “and it’s the same quality of care you can expect from New York City.”

Northwell Health

Courtesy of Northwell Health

“Historically, if a patient had come to the ER suffering a cardiac event that had a blockage, a lot of those patients would end up in an ambulance going elsewhere — sometimes to the city. But we can now do that here, on-site, at Northern Westchester.”
—David Seligman Northwell Health

Related: A Guide to Westchester’s Hospitals and Urgent Care Clinics