ColumbiaDoctors Opens New Midtown Center

Anna Spinner
February 18, 2013

Columbia University Medical Center has launched a new medical practice near Rockefeller Center, giving the commuters and visitors who stream into midtown Manhattan easy access to some of the city’s top practitioners.

ColumbiaDoctors Midtown comprises faculty of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine and School of Nursing. More than 225 physicians, dentists and nurse practitioners offer comprehensive medical services, including cardiology, executive health, pre- and post-surgical care, psychiatry, radiology, travel medicine and women’s health, as well as laboratory services.

“People come from throughout the tri-state area, and even beyond, to see Columbia doctors,” said Dr. Lee Goldman, executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 24. “The new ColumbiaDoctors Midtown makes it even easier—for both our existing patients and our new ones—to be cared for by our renowned experts.”

Officials from both Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital were on hand as Dr. Louis Bigliani, an orthopedic surgeon and president of ColumbiaDoctors, and Dr. Robyn Gmyrek, a dermatologist and chair of the board of the midtown practice, cut the ceremonial ribbon.

The opening of the 125,000-square foot outpatient practice, which replaces the ColumbiaDoctors Eastside office on East 60th St., marks a highly visible return to midtown Manhattan for Columbia, which used to own 11.7 acres of land underneath Rockefeller Center.

In 1985, the University sold the valuable real estate—a gift from the State of New York in 1814—to the Rockefeller Group for $400 million. The new facility, at 51 West 51st St., is also just blocks from the Madison Avenue campus where Columbia was located for some 40 years, from 1857 until its 1897 move to Morningside Heights.

The need to expand prompted the move to 51st Street. The new location is expected to serve at least 20 percent more patients per year. In addition to the health care professionals who practice at the midtown location, patients have access to the entire 1,200-member ColumbiaDoctors multi-specialty practice and its locations in New York City, Westchester and throughout the tri-state area.

At the opening ceremony, Goldman thanked CUMC Chief Operating Officer Mark McDougle, who led the project from lease negotiation to opening within about 18 months, as well as the CUMC capital projects team, who kept the project on schedule despite significant disruptions due to Hurricane Sandy.

Dr. Kenneth Forde, a retired surgeon and chair of the health sciences committee of the University Board of Trustees, said the facility design represents the way health care is practiced in the 21st century. The spacious layout, with comfortable waiting areas and ample natural light, will encourage interaction between clinicians in different specialties and let patients seeing multiple specialists coordinate appointments.

“I see us not only keeping up with the times, but being able to anticipate some of the changes in health care,” said Forde, who also serves on the board of NewYork-Presbyterian. “We’ve moved away from the siloed, entrepreneurial-type practices—we’re all involved. We’re enjoying more patient participation. We have opportunities for education in everything we do.”

In other design features, specialties with frequent overlap of patients, such as pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology, are located close to each other. “I think it’s special that we have one-stop shopping and coordinated care,” said Gmyrek. “It leads to superior patient care and superior medical results.”