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Health Chiefs Look to Integrate Four Brooklyn Hospitals Into Single Network

By Camille Bautista | January 12, 2017 5:16pm | Updated on January 13, 2017 5:43pm
 A state-commissioned study is recommending a series of changes at Brooklyn hospitals including Interfaith Medical Center, which could become part of a new healthcare network.
A state-commissioned study is recommending a series of changes at Brooklyn hospitals including Interfaith Medical Center, which could become part of a new healthcare network.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Changes could soon be coming to Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Interfaith Medical Center under a plan to form a new health care system in central and north Brooklyn.

A feasibility study commissioned by the state’s Department of Health suggests the restructuring of four hospitals — Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Wyckoff Heights Medical Center — into one integrated network.  

Officials are set to discuss the proposal and its impact on central Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center at a Jan. 25 meeting at the Atlantic Avenue hospital.

Under the recommendations from Northwell Health, Interfaith, Brookdale and Wyckoff would remain community hospitals, while Kingsbrook would eliminate inpatient medical, surgical and behavioral care.

As a community hospital, Interfaith would still provide a fully operational emergency department, inpatient medical and surgical care, primary care services and behavioral and mental health care, according to LaRay Brown, the hospital’s CEO and president.

“There has been concern that Interfaith would close. I think given all of that speculation, one of the most critical recommendations from the study is that Interfaith should continue to be a hospital that has a range of services that most communities need,” Brown said.

The hospital would receive behavioral patients from Kingsbrook under the proposed changes, and Interfaith would expand its facilities to accommodate the additional volume, the study details.

As a unified health care system, the hospitals would have one board overseeing them.

Essentially they would become “sister” hospitals to one another, Brown added.

Patients could be transferred between sites depending on the needed specialized care, and there would be a creation of centralized electronic medical records under the plan.

Currently, the four hospitals function independently and, according to the study, “have undergone a decade of financial and organizational trauma.”

Interfaith emerged from bankruptcy in 2014 after a battle to keep the hospital operating.

For 2017’s fiscal year, the hospital would need an estimated $50 million of state assistance to remain open, the Northwell study said.

Other recommendations at Interfaith include:

► The hospital would continue to provide surgical care but would refer complex, high-risk procedures to a regional program

► Re-opening its behavioral health unit

► Improvements to the hospital’s infrastructure, such as electrical systems 

► Emergency department expansion

► Patient unit upgrades

If approved, the changes would take at least five to seven years to implement.

Meetings with the public about the proposals are being conducted, Brown said. Participating hospitals also need to apply jointly to a request for funding from the state for the $700 million allocated for the transformation.

“We sincerely hope the audience will have a lot of questions and engage in terms of comment,” Brown said of the upcoming town hall at Interfaith.

The town hall on the Brooklyn hospitals study will take place at Interfaith Medical Center’s main conference room on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m.

Scheduled speakers include Paul Francis, the state’s Deputy Secretary for Health and Human Services, Jeff Kraut from the North Shore-LIJ Health System, and Interfaith’s president and CEO, LaRay Brown.

Attendees must RSVP to sperry@interfaithmedical.org or call 718-637-7812.