Interfaith Rally Presses State to Save the Medical Facility
As the Interfaith Medical Center Board of Trustees continues to meet with creditors, the state Health Department and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) in bankruptcy court, a bevy of elected officials led about two dozen community activists and hospital workers in a rally at the hospital Monday.
The rally came on the heels of the Obama Administration releasing $8 billion to the state earmarked for health care systems that can show Medicaid savings, and administered through a competitive process.
It also came days after an agreement between the state and new health care providers, which saved Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Downtown Brooklyn.
While LICH is fairly close to other Brooklyn and Manhattan medical facilities, the 267-bed Interfaith, located at 1545 Atlantic Avenue, is the only medical facility serving Central Brooklyn, and in which its catchment area population tends to be the poor and underserved.
“We have had an epidemic of hospital closures in New York City in the last decade,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. “Now, however, there is a glimmer of hope because of the recent agreement that we made possible by working together to preserve health care at Long Island College Hospital. We must capitalize on the momentum of LICH, and the recently won Medicaid Waiver to fight for Interfaith and all our hospitals.”
James said the next step is putting together the application for Medicaid Waiver, and that the Interfaith governing board (Board of Trustees) had a “lot to be desired”. Still, she stopped short of saying the board should be replaced.
Diane Porter, a member of the Interfaith Medical Center Board of Trustees, said she realized somebody must go and the board has already told DASNY they would resign if it would save the facility.
However, Porter also said that the recently floated idea of a co-op board of community stakeholders taking over the hospital was a little too late in the process.
“That may have worked ten years ago but not in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings,” she said.
Porter said the board is currently working on a new term sheet to satisfy creditors and hoped to have it submitted by the end of the week. The court is expected to make a ruling in mid-March, and that may include appointing new management of the facility.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Robert Cornegy said the purpose of the rally was to keep the issue regarding the possible closing of Interfaith in the news.
“Nothing against LICH, but they are close to hospitals in Manhattan and they got all the publicity,” said Cornegy, noting that Interfaith has the second-most beds for mental health patients in the state.
Additionally, Interfaith has a mental health clinic, an HIV treatment center on Bergen Street, the Bishop O.G. Walker, Jr. Health Care Center, a dental clinic and an urgent care center on Atlantic Avenue.
In its most recent financial disclosure, Interfaith reported being $4 million in the red from operations in October on total revenue of $12.8 million. Total losses from its operations since the Chapter 11 filing last year was $29.9 million.