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Interfaith gets another last gasp • Brooklyn Paper

Interfaith gets another last gasp

Bad medicine: Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Interfaith Medical Center is set to close, making it the second Brooklyn hospital, along with Long Island College Hospital, to begin shutting down this year. Like workers at the Cobble Hill medical center, Interfaith staffers are vowing to fight the closure.
Associated Press

Interfaith Medical Center is living on a prayer.

The Bedford-Stuyvesant hospital got another reprieve on Monday when a judge put off for another two weeks deciding on whether it will close, but hospital administrators say it has to shutter soon because the medical center is running on empty.

Hospital management and the state health department now have until Sept. 11 to come up with a plan to shutter Interfaith. Hospital honchos pushed to make the deadline sooner because they say they can barely afford to keep the health care facility open until mid-December, which is now the earliest possible closure date.

The hospital on Atlantic Avenue between Albany and Troy avenues had been set to close in mid-November because it is saddled with debt and hemorrhaging over $1 million per month, according to court filings.

At the hearing on Monday, the state asked for more time to identify replacement health care providers for the 300,000 residents who go to Interfaith annually, and to find new places for the hospital’s 1,544 employees to work. But lawyers for the hospital said the money to stay open longer does not exist.

Hospital administrators have said they tried to save the hospital by cutting about $30 million in annual expenses between 2010 and 2012, but the state demanded earlier this summer that it close for good.

The courtroom was packed with members of the New York State Nurses Association and Service Employees International Union 1199, as well as neighbors of the hospital, some of whom offered their own ideas for keeping Interfaith alive.

One woman said that she had a “good faith” offer of $600,000 for the hospital from an anonymous donor, and that others would reach for their pocketbooks if they knew their contributions would keep the lights on.

“This hospital saved my son’s life two years ago,” said Cassey McFadden, who has formed a group called the People’s Committee to Save Interfaith Medical Center.

Last week, public advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill DeBlasio filed an objection to the hospital closure. In the filing, he accused the state of plowing ahead to approve the Interfaith closure without a legally required 90-day review period.

Interfaith could survive in a stripped-down form with specialty clinics but no emergency room, an administration source said. The opposite set-up is a possibility for Cobble Hill’s embattled Long Island College hospital, which a judge predicted could operate with fewer out-patient clinics but an intact, general hospital core.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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