Interfaith Medical Center to close, may join LICH in legal limbo

Interfaith Medical Center to close, may join LICH in legal limbo
Associated Press

Somebody call 911! Brooklyn hospitals are dropping like flies.

Interfaith Medical Center announced Tuesday that it is ending most of its programs but, in a scenario similar to the one playing out at Long Island College Hospital, Interfaith employees are fighting the closure they say will threaten lives for miles around.

“There is nothing to substitute for a comprehensive teaching hospital,” said Charmayne Saddler-Walker, a registered nurse at Interfaith.

The Bedford-Stuyvesant hospital on Atlantic Avenue between Albany and Troy avenues has filed for bankruptcy and is set to close in mid-November, forcing the 300,000 mostly poor and uninsured people who use its services annually to look elsewhere for health care. Managers plan to stop accepting ambulances and admitting new patients on Aug. 15, according to court documents, but hospital staffers say they are prepared to battle the closure in court.

The move to close was not the hospital’s idea, though. Court papers show that the state rejected Interfaith’s restructuring plan, which was submitted as the hospital was hemorrhaging millions of dollars, and demanded that it close instead.

On Tuesday, hospital administrators admitted that they were in an untenable situation and agreed to use everything left in the budget to wind down services and pay all 1,544 employees their final paychecks.

Hospital officials said that the closure plan includes moving all remaining patients to other facilities.

“We are working closely with the state to make sure that every patient is provided for,” said Interfaith spokeswoman Melissa Krantz.

But Interfaith employees say that high health care costs and longer ambulance trips will put people in peril.

“If we do not stay open, people are going to be dying in [other] emergency departments,” said Jolannah Gregory, an Interfaith nurse and a member of the New York State Nurses Association, a union.

Interfaith is the second borough hospital to start shutting down this year. Long Island College Hospital announced its shuttering in February. Nurse unions and politicians are pushing back against that closure in court and in street protests, but only a few patients remain in the Cobble Hill facility.

Also, on Thursday, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick announced it will get rid of its family medical practice due to budget woes.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.