Interfaith Medical Center closure delayed by two weeks

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio dicusses a court's decision to allow Interfaith Medical Center a few more weeks to operate before closing.  Credit: Office of the Public Advocate
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio dicusses a court’s decision to allow Interfaith Medical Center a few more weeks to operate on Tuesday.
Credit: Office of the Public Advocate

Brooklyn’s struggling Interfaith Medical Center will remain open for at least another two weeks, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled this week.

The broke Bedford-Stuyvesant hospital was slated to begin closing Monday, but that’s been postponed until at least Sept. 11 after supporters argued in federal court that there was no legally obligated 90-day review of the closure.

The State Department of Health agreed, asking the court to postpone the closure because the “closure plan does not yet meet the department’s requirements … to assure a carefully planned closure.”

“None of us are going to take this lying down,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio at a press conference discussing the court’s decision.

If the hospital does close, more than 175,000 Brooklynites would need to travel farther for emergency rooms, de Blasio’s office said. Almost 70,000 people use Interfaith’s outpatient psychiatric facilities who don’t have any other options in their own communities.

Still, the hospital is losing more than $1.5 million a month, with most patients uninsured. Interfaith’s financial troubles began when the state cut Medicaid reimbursements in 2009, leading to some $57 million in losses for the hospital the next year.

While the state and Interfaith proposed mergers with other Brooklyn hospitals, negotiations were suspended.

If it does close, the 1,544 doctors, nurses and other workers will be laid off next month.

“All the healthcare workers of Interfaith, we come to work not for ourselves, but we come and we give our service without even thinking, because we know that the people in our community is our brother and our sister,” said Charmayne Saddler-Walker, an Interfaith nurse.

De Blasio and other advocates have fought against other hospital closures, including Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

With de Blasio one of the frontrunners in the mayoral election, hospital closures have become a contentious issue on the campaign trail.

Still, his involvement has come under scrutiny. As Crain’s New York Business reported, the Department of Health requested the court to delay Interfaith’s closure on Aug. 23, three days before de Blasio seemingly claimed credit for the reprieve.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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