Governor Spitzer has tapped the chief executive of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Richard Daines, to be his health commissioner, filling a crucial spot in his administration, sources said.
In Dr. Daines, Mr. Spitzer has chosen a veteran hospital administrator who entered medicine after serving as a missionary in Bolivia for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1970s. Dr. Daines, 55, has served as president and CEO of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center since 2002, and was a senior vice president at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx in the 1990s.
At St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, a not-for-profit tertiary care teaching hospital run by Continuum Health Partners, Dr. Daines is in charge of two full-service facilities — one next to Columbia University and the other near Columbus Circle in Manhattan — with a total of just more than 1,000 certified beds.
Dr. Daines will play a crucial role in the Spitzer administration, being placed in charge of carrying out Mr. Spitzer's sweeping health care agenda. Mr. Spitzer has vowed to cut costs in health care and extend health coverage to hundreds of thousands more children. He has called for putting more focus on managing chronic diseases and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
Most important, the commissioner will be responsible for executing the recommendations made by the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, which called for the closure of five city hospitals and four upstate hospitals and proposed plans for mergers and conversions of 48 hospitals.
It's a complicated task that is sure to attract criticism from industry opponents of the commission's plan. The recommendations became law on January 1 and are required to be implemented within 18 months.
Dr. Daines will also be the gatekeeper for capital project submissions and license changes requested by hospitals. He will be the one deciding whether to push projects through the pipeline or sit on them.