Interfaith Needs to Remain a Full-Service Hospital, Supporters Say

By Paul DeBenedetto on February 24, 2014 6:25pm 

 Supporters want Interfaith to remain full-service despite the governor's vow to "transform" hospitals.
Supporters want Interfaith to remain full-service despite the governor's vow to "transform" hospitals.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Interfaith Medical Center supporters called for the facility to remain a full-service hospital, despite calls from the governor to transition some of New York's remaining medical centers into alternative service providers, they reiterated at a protest on Monday.

The rally in front of the hospital came weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that an $8 billion Medicaid waiver from the federal government would be used in part to "transform New York's health care system" — transitioning some full-service state-run hospitals into urgent and primary care centers, emergency units or specialized treatment facilities, according to reports.

Interfaith is one of three Brooklyn hospitals currently struggling to stay open that are vying for a portion of the estimated $1 billion that the governor estimated will be needed for Brooklyn alone.

Supporters fear Interfaith's application for a portion of the cash could mean the hospital will have to change the services it offers.

"There has been an attempted dismantling of the Brooklyn health care network," said Comptroller Scott Stringer. "Let's draw the line in the sand with Interfaith."

Among the other Brooklyn hospitals that are seeking federal funds are Brookdale Hospital Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.

Long Island College Hospital, which is ineligible for federal funds, is also undergoing a new request for proposal process, in a bid to stave off closure.

One of the proposals on the table for Interfaith's future is a "cooperative" model, in which the current board would be dismissed and a new community-controlled board would take its place, as DNAinfo New York originally reported.

"Clearly we need a change in management," said Public Advocate Letitia James. "The idea is that the community have some say with regard to the healthcare being provided."

The plan is currently supported by local health care unions and Interfaith's community advisory board.

Interfaith Medical Center services a section of Brooklyn many supporters consider underserved by health care services. Central Brooklyn suffers from disproportionately high rates of diseases like HIV, diabetes and asthma, according to Health Department surveys.

Interfaith also services a large population of mental health patients. Of the 287 beds at the hospital, 120 are used by the psychiatric wing, according to the hospital.

All of which points to the fact that Interfaith needs to keep its services, said central Brooklyn Councilman Robert Cornegy.

"The history of its service has been to a demographic that's traditionally been underserved," Cornegy said. "[The money] can't go anywhere else."

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