Interfaith Advocates Heartened With Restructuring Plan
By: Stephen Witt
With a restructuring of the Interfaith Medical Center’s leadership in place, local community stakeholders are cautiously optimistic that the medical center will come out of its bankruptcy with the ability to stay open and serve the public.
Under the restructuring plan as approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court last week, a transition process was set up where Melanie Cyganowski, a former chief bankruptcy judge and a partner with the firm Otterbourg P.C., would take over as the hospital’s chief restructuring officer.
Additionally, Steve Korf, the founder of ToneyKorf, a business advisory firm and a former chief operating officer of Brookdale Hospital, was named interim chief executive officer.
Once the full Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan is approved, which is expected next month, Interfaith’s current board of directors would be dissolved and the state Department of Health would name Cyganowski the temporary operator of the hospital.
While Interfaith spokesperson Melissa Krantz refused to make either Cyganowski or Korf available for comment, she did release a statement from current Board of Trustee Chair Al Wiltshire.
“Interfaith Medical Center is the ultimate ‘safety net’ hospital. It has always been our goal to protect the poor, medically underserved and largely Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean people of Central Brooklyn who, without IMC, would have no health care at all,” said Wiltshire. “This, along with preserving health care jobs in IMC’s community and maximizing creditor recoveries, is what we have been fighting for all this time.”
The restructuring plan also continues the stoppage, at least for now, of transferring the medical center’s clinics, as had been planned, to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in East Flatbush. This includes 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.
Board of Trustee member Diane Porter said keeping these clinics open is crucial to keeping Interfaith open as they serve as feeder clinics to the hospital.
“We’re pleased this (restructuring) has happened but it continues to bear watching because of the importance of what this hospital means to the community,” said Porter. “And that these new folks, especially Ms. Cyganowski, learn quickly the role this hospital plays in the community and I believe she’ll do that.”
The restructuring plan also drew thumbs up from one of its chief debtors, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).
DASNY is working with Interfaith Medical Center to effectuate a viable restructuring plan that preserves the delivery of critical health care services in the community,” said DASNY spokesperson John Chirlin. “We are committed to assisting in transforming the health care delivery system in Brooklyn and ensuring residents have continued access to quality health care services.
The 267-bed Interfaith, located at 1545 Atlantic Avenue, is the only medical facility serving Central Brooklyn, and in which its catchment area population includes a high percentage of poor and underserved.