Supporters putting together Community Needs Assessment; Judge: 'Passage of time is eroding funds'
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Interfaith Medical Center will be back in U.S. Bankruptcy court in Brooklyn on Wednesday, where supporters hope to fend off the hospital’s closure, again, until a rescue plan can be put in place.
Over the weekend a coalition of Interfaith supporters, including the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), 1199 SEIU, local churches and community groups, held several rallies and a community information meeting.
Now supporters are planning to pray -- at a 8 a.m. prayer rally outside the Downtown Brooklyn courthouse.
Interfaith, serving Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and nearby neighborhoods, was forced to file for bankruptcy last December after the state rejected its proposed restructuring plan.
On November 4, at the request of lawyers for the Interfaith coalition, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Carla E. Craig adjourned bankruptcy proceedings until November 13.
Members of NYSNA told the Brooklyn Eagle the coalition has been putting together a community needs assessment for the hospital’s catchment area and that several health care organizations were eyeing the hospital – or at least parts of it.
Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center has expressed an interest in operating Interfaith’s clinics and urgent care center, but not its 287 inpatient beds, 120 of which are for psychiatric patients.
Eliza Carboni, Associate Director for NYSNA told the Eagle last week that supporters were hoping for more time to develop a plan.
At the November 4 hearing Judge Craig questioned where the funds would come from to keep Interfaith open while a deal was worked out. “The point here is the passage of time is eroding funds available to implement the orderly closure of the hospital and pay creditors,” she said.
Avrum Rosen, attorney for NYSNA, told Judge Craig that three Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in central Brooklyn have expressed an interest in the hospital, but that talks were only at an early stage.
At Monday’s community meeting, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries told supporters that the entire New York City congressional delegation “sent a letter to the Obama administration asking to expedite Gov. Andrew Cuomo's application for a Medicaid waiver, which could bring the state up to $10 billion,” according to Capital New York.
The Governor has made no commitment to use any significant amount of these funds for Interfaith, however.
Originally, plans called for Interfaith’s emergency department to stop accepting patients on September 26, with other services to gradually wrap up by Christmas day. But the hospital received a reprieve after Public Advocate Bill de Blasio filed a motion on August 20 to halt the closure, based on DOH’s disregard of the mandated 90-day review period.
DNAinfo reports that Cassandra McFadden of the People's Committee to Save Interfaith Medical Center filed a lawsuit on Oct. 30 calling for the board of trustees to step down for allegedly mismanaging the hospital.
Supporters blame bad management and Medicaid cuts for Interfaith’s troubles. Interfaith is just one of several hospitals in Brooklyn that have seen their revenue streams decimated by the 2010 cuts in Medicaid reimbursement.
Brookdale Medical Center and SUNY Downstate (University Hospital of Brooklyn) are also in deep financial distress. SUNY’s attempts to close Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill threw ERs at hospitals across Brooklyn into chaos over the summer and have led to lawsuits and mass demonstrations, and have boosted a number of political careers, including that of mayor-to-be Bill de Blasio.