Expanding Health Care Coverage

Grantee Name

Sunset Park Health Council, Inc. / dba: Lutheran Family Health Centers

Funding Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Publication Date

June 2016

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

July 2010 – March 2015

Numbers of homeless in New York City have been on the rise.

Barriers to primary health care access for the homeless are severe, extensive, and challenging to resolve. The community medicine program at Lutheran Family Health Centers (LFHC) was approached by the New York City Department of Homeless Services to be the on-site medical and behavioral health provider at the Bellevue Men’s Shelter (Bellevue), one of the largest shelters in the New York City system.

There had been no on-site provider at Bellevue, and because of funding cuts, the City did not have the resources to hire an on-site provider to perform much-needed services. Subsequently, LFHC submitted an application to open a clinic at Bellevue to provide a variety of primary care services for homeless men. NYHealth awarded LFHC a grant to support the early operation of the clinic.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

NYHealth originally awarded LFHC a grant of $300,000 to bring the clinic at Bellevue to fully operational status within one year. Unanticipated regulatory changes, however, prevented LFHC from opening the Bellevue clinic as anticipated. LFHC had to submit a certificate of need (CON) application for the new clinic facility through the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). However, NYSDOH’s facility guidelines that drive the licensure process had changed since LFHC began the CON process.

In 2013, LFHC was notified it would be issued new guidelines for small clinics co-located with residential facilities (as in the case with Bellevue) in the near future. LFHC could use some interim guidelines in the meantime and apply for a waiver while new guidelines were being developed. Three waivers were submitted to NYSHDOH, which were negotiated and approved; in spring 2014, it appeared as though LFHC was cleared to perform minor renovations and proceed with opening the clinic. However, at this stage, it was discovered that certain New York City fire safety regulations regarding building height had not originally been taken into consideration and were not eligible for a waiver. Although NYHealth had continued to work with LFHC to troubleshoot the licensure and construction issues and to find a viable solution, it was determined that it would be too disruptive, time-consuming, and prohibitively expensive to make the Bellevue location compliant with these particular regulations. As a result, LFHC was unable to move ahead with the project; the grant was canceled by mutual agreement and LFHC returned $285,750 in NYHealth funds.

Co-funding and Leverage: N/A