Elected officials weigh in on how to save the Brooklyn healthcare system
As Brooklynites panic at the possibility of near-simultaneous closures of two major hospitals in the borough — Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill and Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant — many elected officials have responded with statements of outrage, legal appeals of their own, and, now, alternative plans for how to save Brooklyn’s healthcare system.
According to Public Advocate (and mayoral candidate) Bill de Blasio, “saving Brooklyn’s health care” will require the creation of a Brooklyn Health Authority that has the power to manage state Health Department funds and negotiate for hospitals as a group, thus keeping costs down and acting as a first step to making Brooklyn health care a sustainable enterprise.
de Blasio’s plan calls for “a national model for innovative urban health care,” built on four key pillars:
- Creating a Brooklyn Health Authority appointed by the Mayor and the Governor to coordinate spending of health dollars, drive down costs by helping Brooklyn’s small hospitals negotiate as a collective, and push for higher care standards.
- Preventing free-fall hospital bankruptcies that risk shuttering existing health facilities without new alternatives in place.
- Coordinating health facility construction under a new Health Care Transformation and Construction Fund, which will help site and develop new clinics, ambulatory care and hospital construction based on community need.
- Implementing higher standards of care to treat chronic diseases and prevent Hospital Acquired Infections, starting with city-run hospitals like Kings County, Woodhull and Coney Island. Two-thirds of Brooklyn’s hospitals were identified by the New York State Department of Health as having rates of Hospital Acquired Infections “significantly higher” than the state average.
The plan has already received support from hospital worker unions such as the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and 1199 SEIU, with NYSNA Executive Director Jill Furillo stating that “Brooklyn hospitals can survive and thrive – with fairer access to state and federal funding, and more planning and coordination,” and 1199SEIU President George Gresham calling the plan “clear [and] well thought-out” for the long-term.