Some Good News About Health Care in Brooklyn (For a Change)
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts-Schori XXVIth Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, joined the Right Reverend Orris G. Walker, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees, in a festive ribbon- cutting ceremony for Interfaith
Medical Center’s newest facility, the East Building, on their Atlantic Avenue campus.
“This building will house our human resources, information technologies and finance departments,” said President and CEO Edward Glicksman, “as well as clinical programs, mobile crisis unit and faculty practice and physician offices.”
In his remarks, Reverend Walker noted that Interfaith is the largest employer in Central Brooklyn and that “this is just a step in the journey to bring quality health care to this part of Brooklyn.” He also thanked Congressman Ed Towns “for his behind-the-scenes work” in smoothing the way with the political establishment.
At a time when the only hospital news seems to be closings and cutbacks, we asked several of the dignitaries what made Interfaith different.
Glicksman answered that “One of the things is the community support and the work and desire of our board every time there has been a challenge they’ve risen to support us. Our staff provides high-quality care and our patients know that and they come back to us. And that’s the best measure of a hospital’s success if your patients come back to you.”
Asked about the effect of the closing of nearby St. Mary’s Hospital, Glicksman said, “With that closing we’ve seen a 16% increase in emergency department visits and about 700 admissions of patients that used to go to Saint Mary’s. Our big challenge is to handle the increased volume in our emergency department.”
Congressman Towns believes “Interfaith’s leadership makes a big difference” and that the reason for success is that “Interfaith is tied into the community and the community is very supportive. This hospital is needed. The staff recognizes it, the administration recognizes it and the community recognizes it. So we’re going to fight hard to make certain that this hospital continues to grow because it answers a great need.”
Asked about national health care, Congressman Towns said, “We have to begin to look at universal health care. This is the richest country in the world and it should be the healthiest. I think that when a patient walks into a doctor’s office the only thing the doctor should be allowed to ask is ‘Where do you hurt?’ Not ‘How am I going to get paid.’ Patients now in many instances need to have doctors that are experts in their area and they can’t even get to them because the doctor will not take their insurance. That to me is criminal,” concluded the congressman.
The much-slimmed-down Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has been on a Healthy Brooklyn campaign and is obviously following his own advice to the point of refusing a small piece of his much-beloved Junior’s cheesecake. “What’s more important in life than good health?” he asks and says that this ribbon-cutting “should be an omen of what’s to come in Brooklyn.” Evaluating the hospitals in Brooklyn, Markowitz says, “Maimonides is strong, Methodist is strong, Brooklyn Hospital is out of bankruptcy and Coney Island Hospital is doing well.” He cautions that “Victory is challenged and that we have to continue to monitor the situation there but notes that “Cumberland and Woodhull are meeting their goals.”
With the new administration in Albany, he says that, “I hope that with Governor Spitzer in office that there will be a new focus on insuring that our hospitals are provided the funding to meet the needs of their patients.”