Interfaith Hospital Would be Run as a Co-Op Under New Plan

By Paul DeBenedetto on February 19, 2014 9:08am 

 Brooklyn hospital supporters want to change to a cooperative health care system in the borough.
Brooklyn hospital supporters want to change to a cooperative health care system in the borough.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BROOKLYN — Supporters of Interfaith Medical Center and other struggling Brooklyn hospitals are pushing a plan to create a cooperative-based health care system in the borough.

The proposal, confirmed by the hospital's community advisory board and nursing union officials, would replace each hospital's board of directors with a new board made up of locals, patients and employees, according to an outline handed out at a recent community meeting in Bed-Stuy.

"The current healthcare system isn't working for our communities," the proposal reads. "Decisions about how resources are allocated and what kinds of services we get are made on the basis of costs and revenues. We have no direct say in these decisions."

Under the new plan, the board would work with the local hospital's executives to shift the focus to the new community model. In the case of Interfaith, if the state Department of Health selects an interim operator to control the hospital, the new board would work with that operator to implement the plan.

Each hospital would identify specific needs of the community it serves and focus on those needs, with decisions made democratically between community, patients and employees.

Although the new model would represent a radical change for the hospitals, supporters said there is precedent on a smaller scale with food co-ops, workers' co-ops and apartment co-ops, among other forms of cooperatives in the state.

"Cooperative organizations are playing an increasing role in our economy and this approach is a model for fixing the problems in our healthcare system," the proposal reads.

Supporters have already begun workshopping the plan. Members of 1199 SEIU, the New York State Nurses Association and the Interfaith community advisory board have met with the public advocate's office for input, and expect to see some scaled-down services in the hospitals as part of the change, said board chair Sharonnie Perry.

The planning comes amidst a long-awaited influx of federal money which would allow the state to continue funding some struggling Brooklyn hospitals.

While supporters are "elated" about the new funds, Perry said, they recognize that the hospitals have to switch gears if they're to remain open.

"The direction health care is going now, hospitals as we see it today are not going to be the future," Perry said. "We have to look at an alternate plan to survive."

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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