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SUNY survival plan: Shrink Downstate, form Brooklyn hospital network, ditch LICH

SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Photo: Jim Henderson, Wikipedia

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

At a meeting of its board in Manhattan on Tuesday, SUNY presented a four-year restructuring plan that would save financially-troubled SUNY Downstate Hospital by shrinking it and forming a network with other Brooklyn hospitals.

SUNY’s affiliate Long Island College Hospital (LICH) is still up for grabs, however. On May 1, SUNY issued a public Request for Information (RFI) to find another operators to take over some or all of the Cobble Hill hospital. SUNY is considering several proposals, according to published reports.

Under SUNY Downstate’s restructuring plan, Downstate would be transformed into a “smaller, more efficient hospital that is more financially sustainable.” The plan includes “significant workforce reductions” at Downstate’s teaching hospital, University Hospital of Brooklyn.

SUNY says the proposed network of Brooklyn hospitals – to be called the Brooklyn Health Improvement PBC (Public Benefit Corporation) -- would streamline health services throughout the borough by eliminating duplication of services.

The network would “support health improvement initiatives” and “launch managed care contracting to increase revenue” to network members. Network members would remain independent, however, with separate ownership and management.

Downstate also proposes to strengthen the efficiency of the ambulatory programs at Downstate.

SUNY needs an infusion of $435 million in transition funds from the state to carry out its four-year plan. According to the Brooklyn Eagle’s analysis of Downstate’s figures, roughly $129 million of this would go towards LICH expenses, while $225 million would be earmarked for University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) budget shortfalls.

Other expenses would accrue for network integration, IT and other systems, outsourced programs and academic programs.

Downstate, which has been losing money since 2007, must deliver the plan to the State Department of Health and the Governor’s Division of the Budget by June 1, and begin implementing it on June 15.

A state audit concluded that Downstate, which loses about $3 million each week, would run out of cash by July.

In the plan overview, SUNY says the financial difficulties of UHB have “reached the point where they imperil the future viability of Downstate’s academic enterprise.”

The current state can no longer be maintained, SUNY said. “The challenges are immense, the complexity of the State system is overwhelming, and many of the solutions that could be utilized to protect the enterprise from insolvency and achieve a successful rescue of the enterprise, such as bankruptcy, are not options available for consideration as UHB continues to be a state enterprise.”

May 29, 2013 - 2:12pm


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