The news came in January 2018. New York State’s Department of Health and Dormitory Authority of the State of New York awarded $664 million to One Brooklyn Health (OBH) to develop a network of 32 ambulatory care medical facilities, introduce modern technology, and unite struggling facilities under a single electronic health record system. As New York’s former governor announced this vital initiative, One Brooklyn Health was taking shape.
The new system joins three distressed, safety net hospital campuses—Interfaith, Brookdale, and Kingsbrook—the unified enterprise providing care to some of the most underserved and vulnerable areas in the city and state. Central Brooklyn historically houses residents with above-average rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other health challenges. Violence and unemployment rank high, while access to food, exercise, recreation, mental health services, and access to medical care remains scarce. Growing up across the east river in the South Bronx, with nearly 40 percent of residents living below the poverty line, Dona Green knows many of these issues first-hand.
In light of these beginnings, she studied economics and organizational theory, completed an MBA, earned her MA, and started out in healthcare consulting. With more than 15 years in leadership at NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, she was lead planning analyst on the nearly $1 billion modernization of H+H’s Kings County Hospital Center in East Flatbush and lead Planner on the $50 million renovation of the Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, also in Brooklyn. While rewarding, those important projects also paved the way for her return to health care strategic planning in Brooklyn at OBH which provides hospital, ambulatory, and long-term care services to its community residents.
Stepping in as the health system’s senior vice president of strategic planning and major capital project management in 2017 spoke to Green. “I found a purpose when I came to One Brooklyn Health,” she says. “And that purpose is to build a hospital system that will serve the needs of this community in a whole new way, because these communities deserve better than what they’ve had in the past.”
Delivering greater solutions requires changing existing mindsets. “We needed to get out of maintenance mode and do more than just build but focus on keeping the doors open and the lights on forever,” she adds. “I started with the idea that health equity would be a strategic pillar for One Brooklyn’s capital program.”
That foundational principle became Green’s north star, as she led teams to the successful proposal win of a $664 million award—the largest single healthcare capital investment in New York State’s history. Contract in place, Green used her combined experience in organizational behavior, finance, and healthcare to create the right path forward.
“People thought this couldn’t be done, but you can make things happen if you can just figure out how to navigate the inner workings of the structure you exist in,” she says. She synced the financial reporting and controls process to the state’s expectations, collaborated with prospective partners, and launched an RFP to engage a firm to handle construction project management for the more than 100 subprojects in the program.
Strategizing with a minority and women-owned business enterprise (“MWBE”) engagement expert and OBH’s construction program management firm, Green broke many projects down by the construction trades needed to complete each project’s scope of work. This allowed OBH to solicit bids by trade and work experience, thus allowing local and MWBEs (many that were small in size) to be able to successfully bid on OBH’s health care projects. “I wanted smaller trades to participate in their niche and grow their portfolio and have access to healthcare dollars in the contracting space,” she says. It is part of OBH’s mission to be an economic engine for the communities it serves.
The original funding included $210 million to develop a network of ambulatory sites, $384 million for infrastructure improvements, and $70 million for an enterprise electronic health record system and one email domain. Major project highlights besides necessary infrastructure upgrades at each campus include a new emergency department and community health centers on the Brookdale campus, Kingsbrook will transform into an integrated “healthcare village” and Interfaith will expand, consolidate, and modernize its medical and psychiatric emergency department.
Getting these important projects off the ground required patience and persistence, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Forced to slow her ideal schedule, Green found it both necessary and helpful to increase communication with vendors, contractors, and subcontractors to address their health and safety concerns and keep all projects moving. Operating with a future-growth mindset, the SVP and her teams worked in phases, using existing or created swing spaces to start projects with minimal disruptions to ongoing services. An emergency electrical separation project underway at Interfaith will create vertical utility closets in the same location on every floor of the hospital, allowing crews to repair and expand utilities from a central location, as needed.
Patient and community input, essentially to planning on critical projects ensures these purpose-built facilities prove effective and successful. As in the past, she shares, this critical feedback led to key changes, including teams designing separate areas for children in emergency departments. “We are creating these spaces for the people of Brooklyn, and that means we have to ask them what they want and need,” says Green.
In total, these new projects equate to addressing about 500,000 annual ambulatory visits, creating hundreds of jobs, and attracting new clinicians to the region. It’s safe to say, together One Brooklyn Health and Dona Green are transforming New York City’s most populous borough.
²M Corporation, an experienced investment grade medical real estate developer, nimbly navigates the continuum of services for:
Program/Project/Construction Management, quarterbacking design principals and outcomes, and providing forensic due diligence for real estate advisory, off-balance sheet financing, and property ownership & management. Our developments range from simple to the simply spectacular. We are proud to work with an extraordinary leader as Dona Green with the vision to direct effective solutions to complex challenges. We are honored that Dona has considered 2M a valued strategic partner for several high-profile projects in her system.
Congratulations Dona Green and One Brooklyn Health for well deserved recognition for leading a $664 million capital construction program while delivering high quality, comprehensive healthcare to underserved communities. Brown Hatchett & Williams LLP and Williams Strategy Advisors LLC salute you and look forward to continuing to provide you outstanding legal and consulting services.