Only hospital in underserved Bed-Stuy
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Elected officials and Interfaith Medical Center advocates rallied on Monday in Bedford-Stuyvesant to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to use recently-approved Medicaid waiver funds to keep the threatened hospital open.
In 2011, Interfaith filed for bankruptcy and has fended off closure several times.
After an intense push by Gov. Cuomo, on February 13 the Obama administration okayed $8 billion in funds to go towards health restructuring in New York. The Governor promised that close to a billion dollars could go towards helping to stabilize Brooklyn’s crumbling health care system.
While Gov. Cuomo wants to reduce hospital beds and replace them with urgent- and primary-care centers, Interfaith supporters say Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights need a full-service hospital. Interfaith, with 287 beds, is the only hospital serving the area, handling more than 200,000 outpatients annually, with 90,000 in the behavioral health area. The hospital receives 50,000 emergency room visits a year.
Public Advocate Letitia James said that the waiver approval, combined with a recent agreement to offer another round of bidding for Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill, was a good omen for Brooklyn hospitals.
“We must capitalize on the momentum from LICH, and the recently won Medicaid waiver to fight for Interfaith and all of our hospitals,” she said.
Diane Porter, president of the IM Foundation, said, “People of color depend on Interfaith and as the most underserved area in the city in terms of healthcare, closing the hospital is literally a matter of life and death.”
Sharonnie Perry, chair of Interfaith's Community Advisory Board, said, “We are being vigilant in ensuring that Brooklyn, and especially Interfaith, gets its fair share” of the waiver funds.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said the waiver approval was “a tremendous victory” for safety net hospitals like Interfaith, and said that the waiver money should be spent “in the communities that need it most.”
Others at the rally included Borough President Eric Adams, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, Assemblyman Walter Mosely and Councilman Robert E. Cornegy.