Brooklyn, N.Y. — Hours after the state’s legal maneuvers threatened emergency services and precipitated a leadership crisis at Interfaith Hospital, elected officials, the IM Foundation, the Community Advisory Board of Interfaith, SEIU Local 1199, New York State Nurses Association and community members gathered today to protest these actions and demand the immediate release of critical state funding.
In a Jan. 16 legal filing, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) attempted to justify cutting off critical funding to the hospital because the hospital’s board voted to continue operating its own clinics, rather than turn them over to Kingsbrook Medical Center on Jan. 26. Then, on Friday, when funds from the state were not provided, Interfaith’s CEO Patrick Sullivan, who already announced intentions to resign effective Jan. 31, ordered ambulances diverted from Interfaith’s emergency room. This spurred the hospital’s unionized employees to demand that Sullivan immediately relinquish control of the hospital, which was thereafter assumed by Chief Medical Officer Pradeep Chandra, allowing ambulances to drop off patients once again. This crisis comes only weeks after the state agreed to provide millions to fund continued hospital operations into March.
“It’s flat-out dangerous for the state and Governor Cuomo to with play funds that keep Interfaith open and patients alive,” said Diane Porter, president of the IM Foundation, a healthcare advocacy organization headquartered in Brooklyn that has remained focused on preventing Interfaith’s closing. “This is the most underserved community in terms of health care. It’s inconceivable the state would allow it to close. Before any decisions are made on Interfaith, there needs to be a comprehensive study of all the hospitals in Brooklyn and their location to prevent a devastating impact on black communities.”
“Ain’t no stopping us now, we are on the move to turn Interfaith around,” said Sharonnie Perry, chair of the Community Advisory Board of Interfaith Medical Center.
“I’m extremely frustrated that DASNY’s recent actions precipitated this crisis and led to a sense of panic in the community,” Council Member Robert Cornegy said. “All of our negotiations have been focused on preserving the essential medical services on which the people of central Brooklyn rely. The state acknowledged the validity of this goal by agreeing to fund the hospital throughout the winter. For DASNY to now take actions that threaten basic services is completely unacceptable. I commend Interfaith’s employees and the community for being organized enough and strong enough to effectively fight back.”
“I have stated many times over the past year that Interfaith Medical Center is the vital institution for health services in the Central Brooklyn community,” Assembly Member Annette Robinson said. “The survival and maintenance of complete services to this Hospital is paramount. We have asked and will continue to press the Governor to work with the Central Brooklyn leadership to fully maintain this Hospital. I support the decision of the Hospital Board to maintain operation of the clinics and not assign their jurisdiction to another medical facility at this time. I also find the legal actions taken by the Dormitory Authority premature and would urge the Authority to halt their actions. The Central Brooklyn elected officials will continue to strongly urge the Governor to delay any actions relating to the closure of Interfaith. We will also ask Mayor de Blasio to intervene, as he has done in the past, and use his Office to assist in our effort. We will not give up the fight to save Interfaith Hospital.”
“These attempts to undermine the reorganization efforts of Interfaith Medical Center must stop. We cannot leave the thousands of families who depend on the hospital for primary care and life sustaining emergency services without this hospital,” Congresswoman Yvette Clarke said. “In the richest city in the richest nation in the world, we have the ability to support a reorganization of Interfaith Medical Center, support its patients, the community that must have access to Emergency services, and the many dedicated women and men who work there. We need only the resolve to act on our convictions.”
Annually, Interfaith provides more than 200,000 outpatient clinic visits, 50,000 emergency department visits and 11,000 discharges. Of the outpatient clinic visits, more than 90,000 are in the behavioral health area.
Since 2000, 19 hospitals in New York City have closed due to financial pressures – leaving mostly poor and underserved patients with even less healthcare services in their community. Serving Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and surrounding communities, the hospital serves 11,000 inpatient visits and 250,000 outpatient visits last year. In addition, it employs 1,516 full-time health care professionals and has 287 beds, 120 of which are for psychiatric patients.