Interfaith could close December 26
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Asking “Where’s Cuomo?” hundreds of advocates of Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center and Long Island College Hospital (LICH) brought the healthcare battle to Governor Cuomo’s front door in New York City late Thursday.
Supporters say that the closure of the two hospitals would be disastrous for Brooklyn.
The rally came just two days after the State University of New York’s (SUNY) board of trustees, in a surprise vote, tabled plans to turn LICH into condos and an urgent care center.
Jill Furillo, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), called on Governor Cuomo to "Do the right thing."
“We want to make sure that Governor Cuomo hears the voices of Brooklyn patients who could be left without access to care if either Interfaith or LICH closes,” NYSNA spokesperson Eliza Bates told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday. “Both Bed-Stuy and Red Hook are already federally designated Health Professional Shortage areas -- these communities need more care, not hospital cuts and closures.”
Hospital supporters, including Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, have fought non-stop since January –- with rallies, lawsuits and an unheard of level of community activism -- to prevent the dismantling of the institutions.
Court-ordered mediation between Interfaith, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and the Department of Health have reached a standstill. With courts closed on both December 24 and 25, Interfaith will permanently shut its doors the day after Christmas unless action is taken by Monday, December 23.
Advocates said they are asking the governor to keep both hospitals open until expected federal funding allows stakeholders to put together a long-term solution to the borough’s healthcare crisis.
“We cannot allow Interfaith to close just a day after Christmas,” said Diane Porter, president of the IM Foundation, a healthcare advocacy organization. “There needs to be a serious comprehensive study of all the hospitals in Brooklyn and their location to prevent a devastating impact on black communities.”
Interfaith serves Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and surrounding communities, which LICH serves a swath of northwestern Brooklyn from Red Hook to Williamsburg, including Downtown Brooklyn.
Cash-strapped SUNY Downstate has been trying to close LICH since the beginning of the year.
Jeff Strabone, spokesperson for the Cobble Hill Association told the Eagle, “One man can solve SUNY's problems at LICH anytime he wants, and that man is Governor Cuomo. As one hospital after another closes, his silence is deafening. The governor needs to rein in Carl McCall's rogue leadership of SUNY and say, once and for all, that the state will stop destroying LICH by design. We would welcome the governor's leadership. Today we're rallying at his Manhattan office to see if he can wake him from his torpor.”
The Cobble Hill Association is one of the six community groups that have banded together with Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, union and patients in lawsuits against LICH’s closing.
“Patients for LICH is proud to stand with both the Save LICH & Save Interfaith communities to let our governor know that Brooklyn's residents need our hospitals open as full service hospitals,” said Susan Raboy, spokesperson for Patients for LICH. "Our communities demand access to our hospitals!”