Merger Between Troubled Interfaith and Brooklyn Hospitals Hits Snag

By Paul DeBenedetto on June 20, 2013 8:14am 

 The merger between Interfaith and Brooklyn hospitals is in jeopardy, according to reports.
The merger between Interfaith and Brooklyn hospitals is in jeopardy, according to reports.
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DNAinfo/Michael Phillis

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A merger between two troubled Brooklyn hospitals designed to help the bankrupt establishments stay afloat has come to a standstill, according to reports.

The two hospitals, Bed-Stuy's Interfaith Medical Center and Fort Greene's Brooklyn Hospital, signed a non-binding agreement in February. The merger was designed to give Brooklyn Hospital almost full control over Interfaith, including the power to choose new management and create a board of trustees that would consist of 60 percent Brooklyn Hospital members.

It also provided Brooklyn Hospital "the possibility of new, reduced and reconfigured services at New [Interfaith,]" according to the agreement.

Some Interfaith supporters believed that the merger would necessitate heavy cost-cutting measures, leaving the hospital ill-equipped to serve the community.

"Part of this is a smoke screen about whether or not hospitals are closing," Interfaith advocate and District Leader Robert Cornegy said at the time. "But the bigger piece is how we're going to access health care as a community for the rest of our lives."

But a court document filed last week indicated "there has not been any further movement on the merger," and the deal "may have reached an impasse," due in part to a lack of funds from Albany needed for Brooklyn Hospital to complete an investigation into Interfaith's finances, according to Crain's New York Business.

Interfaith has gone through a series of layoffs in recent weeks, and without the merger, only has enough money to stay open through July, according to the paper.

The hospital serves parts of central Brooklyn, including Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, where in 2011, 33.5 percent of the population suffered from high blood pressure and 25.4 percent suffered from high cholesterol, according to Health Department surveys. The area's 14.3 percent reported diabetes rate was one of the highest in the city.

A January 2012 policy memo by the health care advocacy group Save Our Safety Net expressed concerns over the health care delivery system in the area.

"North and Central Brooklyn are currently designated medically underserved, health professional shortage areas," the memo read. "The community has long been in need of additional health services, so the proposed reductions will only serve to exacerbate the problem."

Interfaith made headlines in March when a friendly dominoes game between two men in the hospital's psych ward led to one patient's death.

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