Interfaith Hospital to Remain Open in Last-Minute Deal With State

By Paul DeBenedetto on December 23, 2013 4:45pm 

  Interfaith Medical Center stay open thanks to a last-minute deal with the state.
Interfaith Medical Center stay open thanks to a last-minute deal with the state.
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DNAinfo/Michael Phillis

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Interfaith Medical Center will stay open for business thanks to a last-minute decision by the state Department of Health, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

With just minutes to go before Interfaith was set to submit its closure plan, lawyers for the beleaguered hospital were contacted by the Health Department telling them not to submit it, the spokeswoman said.

The deal, first reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, will provide the hospital unspecified additional time and money, the spokeswoman said.

The hospital was awaiting a letter from the DOH Monday afternoon with terms, they said.

The DOH did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Interfaith Medical Center began losing money in 2010 after the state reduced Medicaid reimbursements, a blow to a hospital where officials say more than 60 percent of patients depend on the program.

Interfaith filed for bankruptcy in December 2012, followed by a year of bankruptcy court proceedings to determine the future of the hospital. On Nov. 13, a judge ordered all parties involved — including Interfaith, the state, creditors and healthcare unions — to sit down to discuss plans for the hospital's future.

Those talks finished on Friday, and the hospital looked like it was poised to close for good.

Activists have been trying to save the hospital for months, staging protests and trying to formulate a plan to keep Interfaith's doors open. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio in August released a report saying the closure of Interfaith, Brooklyn's largest provider of inpatient psychiatric care, would overwhelm psychiatric wards in other hospitals.

On Friday, the New Brooklyn Theater announced a protest show at Interfaith, performing an Edward Albee play at the hospital in January to raise awareness about its possible closure.

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who has participated in meetings in Albany with the governor's office to save the hospital, celebrated the state's decision.

“The community is thankful that Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo and the state Department of Health have recognized the need to continue supporting Interfaith Medical Center at this difficult moment," Jeffries said in a statement.

"The hospital remains on life support, but today we have taken a significant step forward by avoiding closure. Bedford-Stuyvesant and the communities of Central Brooklyn deserve a thriving medical institution, and we will not rest until that vision becomes a reality.”

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