SUNY Downstate Medical center has just issued this statement:
SUNY Downstate Medical Center today withdrew from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) its proposed closure plan for Long Island College Hospital and said it would continue to seek a provider of healthcare services within the LICH community, including potentially a hospital operator.
“The financial conditions at LICH remain unchanged. LICH’s continued financial losses still threaten the viability of Downstate Medical and our world-renowned medical school. We are withdrawing the closure plan so we can work with the State and other stakeholders on a sustainability plan for Brooklyn’s only medical school and to ensure quality medical care throughout the borough. The current legal proceedings prohibit this dialogue,” said Downstate President Dr. John F. Williams, Jr.
The recently enacted state budget provides SUNY with a new and comprehensive set of tools for Downstate to restructure itself and requires that SUNY and Downstate, with the approval of DOH and the State Division of the Budget, develop a Sustainability Plan, which is due June 1, 2013 with implementation to begin by June 15, 2013.
The statutorily required Sustainability Plan is intended to provide a detailed blueprint to allow Downstate to achieve financial viability while continuing to provide its core services in education, clinical care and research.
SUNY Downstate Medical School has educated one out of every three doctors in Brooklyn and one of nine doctors in New York City. Downstate’s educational mission also includes a School of Nursing, a School of Public Health, a School of Graduate Studies and a School of Health-Related Professions that trains Physician Assistants and people in the fields of Diagnostic Medical Imaging, Medical Informatics, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy.
Downstate is facing severe economic challenges for a variety of reasons, including:
• A highly competitive health care market in Brooklyn coupled with downward pressure on all health care reimbursement;
• Costs generated by numerous regulations and procurement restrictions that apply to Downstate, as a state entity, but not other private, non-profit medical centers;
• Reliance on direct state support, as a state entity.
Over the past several years, state support has diminished while expenditures have risen. Reimbursement rates for patient care have declined precipitously, a development that has made such safety net hospitals as Downstate’s University Hospital of Brooklyn financially vulnerable.
Before its acquisition by Downstate, LICH had lost money for some 15 consecutive years. When Downstate acquired LICH, it hoped to expand its clinical care delivery, preserve education and training opportunities, and strengthen healthcare throughout the borough.
“Since I came to Downstate eight months ago, my commitment to preserving and strengthening our core educational mission has only increased,” Dr. Williams said. “The decision in February seeking to cease SUNY’s operation of LICH was not made easily or happily but was made realistically. Now through our work on developing the Sustainability Plan, we will be able to evaluate and make recommendations for the future of the educational components of Downstate, as well as the hospitals we currently run.”