BROOKLYN — Last week the Brooklyn Hospital Center submitted an application for grant money as part of a $450 million state Department of Health (DOH) program to fund the hospital’s merger with Interfaith Hospital and the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.
Originally proposed last fall by the DOH’s Medicaid Redesign Team: Brooklyn Work Group, which was charged with finding solutions for Brooklyn’s most financially troubled hospitals, the merger seemed like an obvious solution for all involved.
The chief operating officer of Wyckoff Medical Center, Ramon Rodriguez, seems to disagree, despite having been a member of the same Brooklyn Work Group whose recommendation he is now flouting.
Rodriguez told Crain’s New York he was surprised to hear that his hospital was included on the Brooklyn Medical Center application.
“How can an organization say we are involved when we are not? To say we are involved in the application is strange,” he said, adding that he thought Wyckoff hadn’t had a say in the merger process.
A spokesperson for Wyckoff confirmed that the hospital has submitted its own DOH grant application and would not take part in the Brooklyn Hospital Center plan for a merger. She would not comment on whether or not there could be a merger in the future, only saying that “we’re doing our own grant.”
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center was one of the hospitals singled out by the Brooklyn Work Group as being in particularly dire financial straits. Identified as being $91 million in the red, the Work Group found that Wyckoff, Interfaith and four other hospitals “do not have a business model and sufficient margins to remain viable and provide high quality care to their communities as currently structured.”
The report also said that “Financial crises at three Brooklyn hospitals — Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center — are jeopardizing access to quality care for thousands of Brooklyn residents.”
It is unclear whether Rodriguez intended to distance Wyckoff from the merger as a whole, or only from Brooklyn Hospital Center’s particular application for the DOH grant, but Catherine Derr, vice president of marketing and communications at Brooklyn Hospital, disputes Rodriguez’s claim.
“For some time he was informed and well aware of our intention to submit the application for the integration of the three hospitals,” she said. “His comments claiming ‘surprise’ are inaccurate.”
— Zach Campbell
Brooklyn Daily Eagle