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Still No Decision on Interfaith as State Blames Hospital for Lack of Funds

By Paul DeBenedetto | January 22, 2014 11:58am | Updated on January 22, 2014 12:38pm
 The state accused Interfaith of breaking a deal for $3.5 million when it postponed transferring clinics.
The state accused Interfaith of breaking a deal for $3.5 million when it postponed transferring clinics.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The state accused Interfaith Medical Center of breaking a deal for $3.5 million in funds when it opted to postpone transferring its clinics to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center last week.

In federal bankruptcy court on Tuesday, attorneys for the state said they would not go through with a promised $3.5 million in aid to keep the hospital afloat unless Interfaith's board allowed the transfer of clinic services to Kingsbrook.

"This is a sort of self-inflicted wound," said attorney David Neier. "They did this without consulting with [the Department of Health,] without consulting with Kingsbrook and without consulting with [the state dormitory authority.]"

But lawyers for Interfaith disputed the argument, saying the transfer of services was based on a previous hospital closure plan.

The potential deal with the state effectively cancelled the closure and made the original transfer date obsolete, according to Interfaith attorney Alan Lipkin.

"The board is not saying 'we won't transfer the clinics,'" Lipkin said. "If we know a closure date, the clinics will be transferred."

Without an influx of cash the hospital would likely only be able to operate through the end of January, Lipkin said.

The two sides will meet again on Friday to hash out a possible deal, sources said.

The state last month promised $3.5 million in aid to the hospital through Feb. 7, with an understanding that the two sides would revisit the issue and add additional funding through Mar. 7.

But when the board of Interfaith voted last week to postpone the transfer of clinics to Kingsbrook Medical Center — part of a previous decision to close the hospital — the state abruptly pulled the funds.

As a result, Interfaith CEO and COO Patrick J. Sullivan briefly diverted ambulances from the hospital, resulting in a backlash from hospital supporters.

Sullivan, who will retire at the end of this month, was removed from his post as CEO by the hospital's board, and Chief Medical Officer Pradeep Chandra rescinded the order four hours later.

Outside the courthouse on Tuesday, many of those same supporters — including activists, elected officials and union delegates — braved the snow and freezing temperatures to protest the hospital's possible closure.

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to fund statewide universal pre-kindergarten, protestors called on the governor to use state funds to save Interfaith and Long Island College Hospital.

"We are demanding the resources that are deserving of our communities return to our communities," said Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo.

"We are calling on you to be a governor for all New Yorkers, of all economic backgrounds."