Battle over Brooklyn hospitals shifts focus onto Interfaith Medical Center as closure timetable nears

August 21, 2013 Heather Chin
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The fight over Brooklyn hospitals continues today, this time with Interfaith Medical Center.

On Wednesday, August 21, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio filed a 60-page motion in federal bankruptcy court to at least temporarily halt any impending closure of Interfaith, which had requested permission on July 31 to close the Bed-Stuy hospital by November 14, with department shut-downs to begin on August 15.

de Blasio’s motion claims that the state Department of Health improperly rushed approval of Interfaith’s closure plan by ignoring a required 90-day review process. If the motion is granted, the case would go to the state Supreme Court.

The news follows on the heels of another temporary reprieve for Interfaith: on August 9, the scheduled August 15 hearing in bankruptcy court to review Interfaith’s proposed closure plan was postponed to August 26, thus delaying any possible shut down efforts.

The state Supreme Court has been busy of late with cases regarding potential closures of Brooklyn hospitals that residents insist are cornerstones of their communities.

On Tuesday, August 20, the Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Demarest ruled that SUNY Downstate’s purchase in May, 2011, of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) would no longer be in effect, and ordered the transfer of LICH to either its previous owner–Continuum Health Partners–or a new owner/operator.

In response to the latest developments regarding Interfaith, local politicians have expressed cautious optimism and concern about the state of Brooklyn hospitals and health care.

“Health care institutions throughout [the city] are under intense assault, and Brooklyn has now become ground zero for the conflict,” said Congressmember Hakeem Jeffries. “The people of central Brooklyn suffer disproportionately higher rates of HIV infection, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, childhood obesity, and infant mortality.  Bedford Stuyvesant needs more medical care, not less, and we will not tolerate the closure of Interfaith Medical Center in our community.”

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery added that “Interfaith Medical Center has been a major provider of primary, emergency, and psychiatric care in Northern and Central Brooklyn for decades, and its closure would be an incredible and dangerous hardship.”

“Brooklyn communities cannot afford for another hospital to close its doors–period,” exclaimed Assemblymember Karim Camara. “With its growing population and increasing health care needs the borough should be looking to expand health care options for its residents instead of continuously allowing them to close in the wake of funding shortages.”

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