Russell Legislation Streamlines Hospital Construction Review Process

June 29, 2011

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced the Legislature passed a bill she authored that would make the process of obtaining approval for certain repair and maintenance projects for hospitals more efficient (A.7665-B). The measure is now at the governor’s desk for his consideration.

“The current burdensome regulations can leave hospitals waiting for approval for vital, much-needed renovations for months and even years,” Russell said. “It is not necessary for routine repairs and maintenance to undergo the same scrutiny as major projects such as building a new hospital wing. It wastes crucial time and money. This bill will help expedite hospital repairs without jeopardizing patients’ health and safety.”

The Certificate of Need (CON) program, administered through the New York State Department of Health (DOH), is a review process that governs the construction and renovation of New York State hospitals. Health care providers are required to submit a CON application to the DOH and obtain its approval or the State Hospital Review and Planning Council’s (SHRPC) approval before building new hospitals or renovating existing ones, and before acquiring major medical equipment.

Currently, the DOH has to approve all hospital construction projects in excess of $3 million, and the SHRPC has to approve projects in excess of $10 million. In addition, the DOH is not required to act on CON applications within a specific time frame.

Assemblywoman Russell’s legislation would eliminate the requirement for prior approval, regardless of the project’s cost, for projects, such as:

  • Routine repairs or maintenance;
  • Non-clinical infrastructure projects, such as expanding parking lots, replacing roofs, elevators and heating, ventilating and air systems; and
  • Equipment replacements, including acquiring state-of-the-art equipment to be used in place of outdated equipment.

“I urge the governor to sign this bill into law,” Russell said. “It streamlines the review process, cuts red tape and helps improve patients’ health and well-being by helping hospitals install the most up-to-date medical technology in a timely and efficient way.”