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Will Interfaith Medical Center Close?

Financial Distress for Another Brooklyn Hospital

A bankruptcy judge has not yet ruled whether Interfaith Medical Center will close.  Supporters have been trying to prevent the hospital from shutting down since it filed for bankruptcy in December 2012, after New York State rejected their proposed restructuring plan.

Plans originally called for Interfaith to close its emergency room on September 26, 2013.  At that time patients would not be accepted and other services would wrap up by Christmas.  However, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio filed a motion to prevent the hospital’s closure.  De Blasio is currently Public Advocate of New York City.

Potential Takeover by Kingsbrook

Interfaith Medical Center is a 287 bed hospital with an ambulatory care network of 16 clinics, serving Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and nearby neighborhoods.

Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center has been looking into the possibility of operating the clinics and urgent care center.  However, they are not interested in the 287 bed hospital.

Attorney Avrum Rosen of NYSNA told the bankruptcy judge that three Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in central Brooklyn have expressed an interest in Interfaith. Those hospitals however were in early stages of talks.  There are no details whether Kingsbrook is one of those hospitals.

Interfaith’s bankruptcy filing came at approximately the same time as the announced closing of another Brooklyn hospital, Long Island College Hospital.

Potential Impact in Brooklyn

Interfaith, which treats annually in excess of 250,000 people, from some of the poorest neighborhoods in Brooklyn, has long been on the endangered list.  The implications of the bankruptcy are many.  Large parts of Brooklyn, especially in Crown Height and Bedford-Stuyvesant will potentially be without a local hospital.  People with emergency medical conditions would have to travel further for treatment.  In excess of 1,500 people would lose their jobs, and are highly unlikely to be able to find equivalent positions in Brooklyn.

It is likely that in the near future both Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and Brooklyn Hospital will be making decisions about reducing the services they offer to the population in Brooklyn in an attempt to avoid suffering a fate similar to Interfaith.

Brookdale Medical Center and SUNY Downstate (University Hospital of Brooklyn) are also in deep financial distress.

Supporters of Interfaith blame bad management and Medicaid cuts for the financial problems that lead to the hospital’s bankruptcy filing.

For a more detailed analysis of the financial problems of Brooklyn hospitals, one should read the Berger commissions report (Click here: NY Healthcare Commission) which over a year ago called for the closure of certain hospitals and the merger of others.

What is happening now should be of little or no surprise.

It is unclear how the federal change in healthcare will impact the remaining hospitals in Brooklyn.