De Blasio silent as cash-strapped facility makes
application for fed money to stay open
In a game of hospital poker, the Interfaith Medical Center’s Board of Trustees Tuesday voted Tuesday to unanimously hold onto their money-making outpatient clinics, but it remains to be seen if the state health department will blink.
At stake is the survival of Interfaith, which is currently on life support in its role as the only full-service medical facility serving Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Interfaith was scheduled to close January 26 per a bankruptcy judge’s court order and transfer its outpatient clinics including the as HIV treatment center on Bergen Street, the Bishop O.G. Walker Jr. Health Care Center, a dental clinic and an urgent care center to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in East Flatbush. However, a $3.1 million infusion of state money just before Christmas bought the hospital until March to come up with a new plan to make Interfaith solvent.
“In light of the expectation that our hospital will continue to operate to March 7, instead of the previously contemplated closing in late January, we have decided to delay the transition of clinics to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center,” said Albert C. Wiltshire, Chairman of the Board of Interfaith Medical Center said.
Wiltshire said the board determined that such a transition would not make sense prior to the closure of Interfaith because they are a vital component of the medical center’s continuum of quality health care to the traditionally-underserved people of Central Brooklyn.
“In addition because our clinics are key feeders of patient referrals to the hospital, IMC‘s Board believes the fate of the clinics is intertwined with the fate of the hospital and should not be addressed independently,” he added.
Interfaith Board member Diane Porter said delaying the handover of clinics will give Interfaith enough time to submit a new financial reorganization plan this month to become eligible for a federal Medicaid waiver. The federal government has already allocated $10-$15 billion to New York State for this purpose, she said.
“One of our goals is for Interfaith to stay open long enough to take advantage of this money and help us reorganize and become more effective,” said Porter, noting that 80 percent of Interfaith’s patients are on Medicaid – the second highest rate in the state.
Several trustee sources said the Cuomo Administration is “mad as hell” that Interfaith isn’t handing the clinics over to Kingsbrook, and went as far as to issue veiled threats to go to court and possibly hold up the $3.5 million it promised to the facility.
But a State Health Department spokesperson disputed this in an email.
“To ensure the health and safety needs of patients and residents of the community are met, the State has provided $3.5 million to Interfaith Medical Center,” said the spokesperson. “The State will continue to work closely with the facility and other stakeholders towards establishing a quality, accessible and sustainable health care delivery system to serve patients and community residents.
Both the de Blasio Administration and Kingsbrook officials did not respond to inquiries at press time.
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