March 19, 2013
Nurses of the New York State Nurses Association took to the streets in front of Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn on Moday to perform street theatre to protest the closing of Interfaith Medical Center. The hospital, which serves primarily low-income and minority communities in Bedford Stuyvesant, filed for bankruptcy in December. Nurses and patients are extremely worried IMC will close when it merges with Brooklyn Hospital. (Read More/Watch Video)
Ari Moma, a nurse at IMC for more than 17 years, said the two hospitals appeared in court to agree to the election of a chief restructuring officer to determine how best to fix IMC’s finances before Brooklyn Hospital takes over IMC. That worries Moma and other NYSNA nurses and patients because they point to Brooklyn Hospital’s history of merging with other community-oriented hospitals.
“We’ve seen from history how Brooklyn Hospital ruins hospitals when they take over their operations. For example, Caledonian [Health Center] closed after Brooklyn Hospital took over. We don’t want that to happen to Interfaith. The community needs Interfaith,” said Moma.
He noted that residents’ health would be at risk if Interfaith were to close because they would have to travel greater distances for treatment at Woodhull Medical Center in North Brooklyn and New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope.
The potential closing of Interfaith would be another casualty in a growing list of hospital closings in the city in the past decade. In fact, IMC’s second campus near Crown Heights closed in 2003, only to be followed by Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center in the Bronx in 2004, St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s in 2005 and four hospitals in 2008: St. Vincent’s Midtown Hospital and Cabrini Medical Center in Manhattan; Victory Memorial Hospital in Brooklyn and Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills.
While community-oriented and non-profits are shuttering their doors, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2013-2014 executive budget calls for the establishment of a for-profit hospital pilot program in the state, subject to approval by the New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council.
According to a NYSNA report, the PHHPC has suggested reforms in the state’s healthcare delivery system that would make it easier for private capital to enter the state’s healthcare sector.
The report cites studies that show that for-profit hospitals are more likely to offer higher profit services, such as open-heart surgery, and not offer services, such as psychiatric emergency care, that could decrease profit margins.
At stake if IMC, along with Long Island College Hospital (LICH), were to close is a reduction of 793 beds in the city’s hospitals, or a 12 percent reduction in bed capacity in Brooklyn.
Joan Hope, a 25-year patient care specialist at Interfaith, said that Bedford-Stuyvesant simply can’t do without the vital services that the hospital provides.
“The community needs us,” Hope said. “The people in the community would suffer without Interfaith. A lot of people come for asthma and all other types of conditions. Kings County can’t take them all. Kingsbrook can’t take them. So, we do need Interfaith to be open. We’re praying that it stays open.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the SUNY board will be holding a vote on whether or not to close LICH, after a judge recently halted the closing, in Purchase, far from the community of patients the hospital serves.
Joe Maniscalco contributed reporting.