South Brooklyn Health receives $600K in capital funding for security, infrastructure as Sandy recovery continues

people pose for photo at south brooklyn health
Councilmember Inna Vernikov and Ari Kagan visit South Brooklyn Health staff in celebrating $600,000 in capital funding.
Photo by Jada Camille

NYC Health+Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health, formerly known as Coney Island Hospital, has been allocated $600,000 in capital funding from local New York City councilmembers Inna Vernikov and Ari Kagan, the hospital announced Wednesday.

“We’re very grateful that we can make these improvements based on your allocation and your generosity,” said South Brooklyn Health COO Dianna Jacob at a press conference. “It’s really critical that we invest in our facilities in this way in order to enable this campus transition and the transformation that you’re seeing.”

councilmember inna vernikov at south brooklyn health
The hospital celebrated the additional funding, which will be used to upgrade their security systems and repair an aging roof. Photo by Jada Camille

The funds will be used to purchase a hospital police vehicle, acquire a hospital police security recording system, upgrade the aging roof of the main hospital building and purchase a brand-new patient transport vehicle to assist those who cannot easily access the center, a hospital spokesperson told Brooklyn Paper. 

Vernikov congratulated the staff  on their “exciting milestone” and commended the innovative leadership of Svetlana Lipyanskaya, CEO of South Brooklyn Health. 

“I’m honored to support your continued work to improve the health and wellbeing of patients in our Southern Brooklyn community,” Vernikov said.

The capital funds from the councilmembers joins a profusion of funding the center received after Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to the hospital in 2012. The hospital lost power as floodwaters filled the basement, and the hospital was completely shut down for months after the storm passed, Lipyanskaya said. Hospital staff had to evacuate all patients — including those in the Intensive Care Unit — down dark stairwells to safer locations.

“We had fish in the emergency department,” the CEO told Brooklyn Paper. “It was very, very traumatic here and frankly it was traumatic for the whole community. We still hear from our constituents and from the community how much that event affected them and how scary it was and how important of a role the hospital played in being able to take care of whoever came to our door.”

coney island sandy
The hospital was forced to close for months after Hurricane Sandy devastated Coney Island, but staff remained to treat patients even when the hospital was officially closed. The new buildings and infrastructure, built with a federal recovery grant, are flood-resistant.

Even when the center had to close its doors, staff members set up a triage center to provide first aid care to the roughly 875,000 southern Brooklyn residents the center serves. 

“There was almost constantly somebody here on the campus even when it was in the middle of being rehabbed to be open again,” she said.

As the neighborhood was grappling with the aftermath of the hurricane, local leaders like former councilmember Mark Treyger, Senator Chuck Schumer and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries rallied behind the rebuilding efforts of South Brooklyn Health. Together, the pols secured a $923 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Over the last ten years and specifically more recently, we have made tremendous improvements that will ensure that the facilities here are for generations to come and that it’s a resilient and safe facility for the patients of our community,” Lipyanskaya said. 

The FEMA grant went towards two large projects: the construction of the new Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital and building a four-foot flood wall above the 500 year flood line. All of the additions were built with flood-resilient power, heating, cooling, and water systems, according to NYC Health and Hospitals.

ruth bader ginsburg statue at hospital
From left: Jane Ginsburg, Svetlana Lipyanskaya and Mitchell Katz unveil a statue of Ruth Bader Ginsburg inside the future lobby of South Brooklyn Health’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. File photo by Paul Frangipane

“This building will ensure that we’re able to function with no interruption no matter what the weather brings us, no matter what flood event this area may have. We will be able to continue providing life saving care on this campus,” Lipyanskaya told Brooklyn Paper.

Parts of the building that were damaged during the storm, such as the in-patient behavioral health center, are now being relocated to the new parts of the campus that are being built with the help of funding the hospital received over the last decade. 

In July of this year, Brooklyn borough president allocated $18.5 million, the largest allocation from the beep’s fiscal year capital funding, toward the hospital’s women’s health department.

Additionally, Bridgette Ingraham, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Public Affairs for South Brooklyn Health, said the hospital has received close to $40 million for preemptive and outpatient services since starting to rebuild.

Lipyanskaya said the Ruth Bader Ginsburg hospital will combine state of the art equipment with quality patient care from a culturally competent team. The new hospital will feature an emergency department double the size of the current one, with 80 private beds. The future Health & Wellness Institute will feature over 50 exam rooms and a new outpatient behavioral and radiology services. 

“The resilience and care of our staff is never-ending. Just going through what they went through — having to evacuate patients in the dark, having to really adjust throughout the reopening phase — and everything that they have done since, they are incredible, they do amazing work,” she said.