BUSHWICK — After months resisting consolidation with two other Brooklyn hospitals, Bushwick's Wyckoff Heights Medical Center shifted position Wednesday to consider supporting the proposed merger.
"We're willing to explore it now," said Wyckoff CEO Ramon Rodriguez's assistant Danielle Fairbarin of the recommended merger with the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene and Interfaith Medical Center in Crown Heights. "We've hired our own consultant who will be evaluating the proposal."
In February the Brooklyn Hospital Center applied for a state grant to consolidate the three institutions into one center that would serve more than one million residents in north and central Brooklyn. A state task force had already recommended in November that Wyckoff — which has faced significant financial troubles — be merged.
But at the time Wyckoff's CEO Rodriguez claimed that Wyckoff would engage in no such merger.
"We wish Brooklyn and Interfaith well but we have a better way," he wrote in an email in February, shortly after becoming the CEO of the center.
"All the communities on the Border will be served, when we've earned our neighbors trust," he said of the Bushwick and Queens neighborhoods that Wyckoff covers. "That is our number one goal to earn your trust. I am the Head Worker and Wyckoff is rising!"
Now, however, Wyckoff's board has hired consultant Dr. Ron Gade, former CEO of Brooklyn Hospital Center and St. Barnabas Hospital, to evaluate the Brooklyn Hospital Center's proposal, said Fairbarin. She said Rodriguez now supports the possibility as long as the community's needs are properly evaluated.
"Because we’re on the border of Queens and Brooklyn it's important we also take Queens into consideration," said Fairbarin of the hospital, which serves thousands of patients and employs 1,800 staff, according to its website.
She said she did not know when the proposed merger would occur, but the Brooklyn Hospital Center has estimated the process would be complete by February 2014.