BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — More than a dozen community residents and faith leaders called for the removal of Interfaith Medical Center’s top executives during a Friday rally.
The public plea to Gov. Andrew Cuomo comes days after the Brooklyn District Attorney announced a plan to investigate $16 million in fees paid to lawyers and financial advisers during the Bed-Stuy hospital’s bankruptcy case.
Participants marched down Atlantic Avenue chanting for the dismissal of Interfaith’s chief financial officer Robert Mariani and Temporary Operator Melanie Cyganowski.
Friday’s protest was reminiscent of previous years in which area residents and elected officials rallied to save the center after its year-and-a-half bankruptcy battle.
The hospital, which serves Central Brooklyn, received state and federal assistance to stay open following the approval of a restructuring plan in June.
“We are deeply concerned, anytime we see a hospital under stress and duress like Interfaith,” said Rev. Conrad Tillard, pastor of Nazarene Congregational Church.
“It would be a crime and it would be neglect if preachers and leaders and community folk would not come out here today and say we are watching what’s going on at Interfaith hospital.”
Protesters held signs reading, “We want better management” and “Do not bankrupt our hospital.”
“We are willing to meet and talk with folks running the hospital but it’s important they know we are concerned,” Tillard added. “In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, if you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for anything. We’re going to stand.”
In a statement to DNAinfo New York, representatives from Interfaith said the hospital’s current management came in after all the decisions made in the bankruptcy process.
“None of Interfaith’s management team were involved in the retention or compensation paid to any of the professionals who took part in the hospital’s bankruptcy proceedings,” the statement reads.
“Every day the team is making the tough decisions and producing tangible improvements to restore the viability of Interfaith so it can continue to fulfill its commitment as a safety-net hospital, providing high-quality health care to the Central and Northern Brooklyn Communities.”
Cyganowski, a former attorney and U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge, previously told DNAinfo she was appointed by the state to help in hospital operations.
During the hospital’s financial struggles, a judge overseeing the bankruptcy case approved nearly $1 million requested by Cyganowski and her law firm for fees and expenses, as first reported by the New York Daily News.
Friday’s protest brought out some hospital employees who stood in solidarity with community participants.
“I’m just glad they’re here,” said one employee, who declined to give her name. “I know others are all inside watching, but I’m thanking them for coming and they gotta do what they gotta do.”
Rev. Damon Cabbagestalk Jr., who led the rally, said he hopes to see action from Cuomo to save “the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant.”
The governor’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.