Both de Blasio and Cuomo express support for longtime Central Brooklyn hospital
By Stephen Witt
Interfaith Medical Center officials expressed cautious optimism late Tuesday night that a court-ordered mediation between two state agencies and the hospital will result in the facility not being shuttered.
The mediation session between the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY), the state Health Department and the hospital board of trustees came after a series of moves following a bankruptcy court ordering Interfaith closed on Jan. 26.
However, in late December DASNY gave the hospital $3.5 million to keep it open until early March. Then last week, the board voted unanimously to hold onto their money-making outpatient clinics, which were supposed to go to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in East Flatbush as per the original bankruptcy order.
This, in turn, caused DASNY to withhold the $3.5 million, which resulted in a raucous rally at the hospital last weekend in which former Interfaith CEO and COO Patrick Sullivan ordered ambulances to not come to Interfaith because the cash-strapped hospital ran out of money.
This order was rescinded after a few hours when the board of trustees replaced Sullivan, who was led out of the facility under a police escort, with Interfaith Chief Medical Administrator Dr. Pradeep Chandra.
Since this weekend, both Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed support for the hospital and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he plans to use part of a $10 billion federal allocation to go to hospitals in Brooklyn.
The court-ordered mediation, though, remains crucial with all parties due back in court this Friday (after this paper goes to press).
“The mediation was very successful,” said Interfaith spokesperson Melissa Krantz. “Both sides have point of view specifics, but they also want Interfaith to continue to exist. Currently, the clinics are still at Interfaith and different sides are working out the timing and the money, and have to report back to the court at 9 am on Friday.”
Krantz said it appears there will be an agreement that is beneficial to both the state and Interfaith. This includes the $3.5 million still on the table and the facility might possibly get more as a stopgap measure until the federal allocation comes through.
Interfaith is located at 1545 Atlantic Avenue and serves Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. Its clinics include a mental health clinic, an HIV treatment center on Bergen Street, the Bishop O.G. Walker, Jr. Health Care Center, a dental clinic and an urgent care center on Atlantic Avenue.
The facility already filed a notice with the state Department of Labor that it plans to lay off 1,545 workers, including 1,405 union workers.
In its most recent financial disclosure, Interfaith reported being $4 million in the red from operations in October on total revenues of $12.8 million. Total losses from its operations since the Chapter 11 filing last year was $29.9 million.