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Ambulances Briefly Diverted From Interfaith As Hospital Awaits State Funds

By Paul DeBenedetto | January 17, 2014 4:54pm | Updated on January 17, 2014 7:20pm
 Interfaith Medical Center briefly stopped accepting ambulances on Friday.
Interfaith Medical Center briefly stopped accepting ambulances on Friday.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Ambulances were briefly diverted from Interfaith Medical Center on Friday after it was revealed that the hospital had not yet received the full $3.5 million lifeline promised by the state last month.

The hospital stopped receiving ambulances around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon before the hospital's chief medical officer intervened, asking the FDNY to rescind an order to redirect patients to other hospitals, a spokeswoman for Interfaith said.

Service resumed around 6 p.m., the spokeswoman said.

Supporters rallied at the hospital Friday night, holding a candlelight vigil in response to the diversion. 

The news comes just days after the struggling hospital postponed transferring control of its local clinics to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, thanks to a recent deal that will keep the facility open until early March.

The Bed-Stuy hospital was scheduled to transfer its clinics to Kingsbrook on Jan. 26 as part of a plan to phase out services. But thanks to a last-minute influx of state funding, the board announced this week that they would not go forward with the transfer plan.

"[Interfaith's] board determined that such a transition would not make sense prior to the closure of [the hospital] because they are a vital component of our continuum of quality health care to the traditionally underserved people of Central Brooklyn," said Interfaith Chairman Albert C. Wiltshire.

"In addition, because our clinics are key feeders of patient referrals to the hospital, IMC‘s board believes the fate of the clinics is intertwined with the fate of the hospital and should not be addressed independently.”

In a dramatic last-minute decision last month, the state approved $3.5 million in additional funds to keep Interfaith open into February, with the state Department of Health agreeing to approve a second round of aid through March 7, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Interfaith wouldn't be the first hospital whose services were taken over by Kingsbrook. In 2005, the hospital took over five community health centers from now-closed St. Mary's Hospital in Crown Heights

Eighteen months later, all but one center closed, according to a January 2012 report published by hospital advocacy group Save Our Safety Net.

In addition to delaying the transfer, Interfaith's board filed a motion in bankruptcy court to extend its deadline to file a bankruptcy plan to March 31, according to Crain's New York Business.