Northwell Health has acquired Queens Medical Associates, a group of cancer clinics that cater to patients in the city’s most diverse borough with a staff that speaks more than 30 languages and dialects.
QMA, whose eight doctors see 10,000 patients annually, was previously an independent practice affiliated with New
York–Presbyterian Queens in Flushing. In addition to its flagship office in Fresh Meadows, it has locations in Astoria, Elmhurst, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Rego Park and Woodside.
The doctors of QMA would be part of Northwell’s plan to open a comprehensive outpatient cancer center in Queens,
said Dr. Richard Barakat, physician-in-chief and director of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute. He said the
healthsystem is scouting locations in the Forest Hills area for the center, which has not been reported previously.
Northwell has sought to deliver more cancer services in outpatient centers. It recently broke ground for a cancer
center on Staten Island and has finished demolition to make way for another on Third Avenue in Manhattan near
Lenox Hill Hospital.
A cancer center where patients can receive chemotherapy, radiation or surgical services in one place provides a more coordinated experience and saves patients from traveling around the borough, said Susan Dicosola, executive
director of Queens Medical Associates.
Under Northwell, QMA’s patients will have greater access to clinical trials in which the most up-to-date treatments are available, Barakat said.
“One of the biggest problems in cancer care is underserved populations who don’t have access to clinical trials,” he
Barakat hopes the practice will be able to assist in translating documentation needed for clinical trials, such as
consent forms, into more languages.
With the number of languages spoken in the practice’s waiting rooms, QMA is like “the United Nations of medical
care,” Barakat said.
The practice’s doctors are now part of Northwell Health Physician Partners. The six physicians who held an ownership stake in the practice were paid fair-market value for the organization’s physical assets. Northwell declined to say how much it paid to acquire the assets. The practice was founded about 20 years ago by Dr. Barry H. Kaplan, and
physicians were added over time who were able to communicate and understand the cultures of a diverse patient
The organization of QMA was divided not by disease type, such as by lung, colon and breast cancers, but by the most prevalent languages spoken by its patients—English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Hindi and Bengali.
“We tried to have cultural competency, which is a key thing in medicine today,” Dicosola said.
By joining Northwell, QMA is transferring the financial risk of running a community oncology practice to the state’s
largest private health system from its six shareholders. As QMA evaluated its options, the physicians recognized that
greater competition from Manhattan health systems and changes in federal health policy that affect reimbursement
could hurt its business, Dicosola said.
She said the physician group had entertained offers from multiple suitors, including from a private equity firm, but
ultimately decided on Northwell. “There are going to be threats from large institutions that don’t have a community
vision and want to take patients back to the mothership,” Dicosola said. “The partner that most closely matched our
vision was Northwell Health.” —Jonathan LaMantia