Will Interfaith Get Off Life Support?

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At a Bankruptcy Hearing, a Glimpse of Hope

Icy hands held up signs. “We need our hospital.” “Our community needs Interfaith.”

A brisk, 29-degree morning didn’t stop supporters of Interfaith Medical Center from rallying Wednesday in front of the United States Bankruptcy Court at 271 Cadman Plaza East in Central Brooklyn. Doctors sported lab coats, nurses wore their New York State Nurses Association beanies, and clergy members used words to establish a sense of community during the prayer service before the hearing.

Ashley Papagni/The Brooklyn Ink

Supporters of Interfaith lined up and picketed, chanting “What do we want? Interfaith. When do we want it? Now!” Ashley Papagni/The Brooklyn Ink

“We are all here together to make sure they keep hands off our healthcare,” said Sharonnie Perry, of the Interfaith Community Advisory Board.

Inside, more than a hundred people packed courtroom 3529 to hear opening statements, testimony, and ultimately a decision on the latest closure plan surrounding Interfaith Medical Center.

The arguments were made with state representatives on one side, and the hospital’s advocates on the other.

“The problem is money. It requires a substantial amount of funds. The only one who could do that is the state,” said Alan Lipkin, who represents Interfaith as its bankruptcy counsel.

Interfaith is currently being financed by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) until its scheduled closing date on Dec. 26th, when state funding ceases. DASNY provides financing and construction services to public and private universities, not-for-profit healthcare facilities and other institutions that serve the public good.

The state, along with DASNY, provided $20 million in Oct. on the condition that the hospital would implement its closing plan. If another plan were to be considered as a result of the bankruptcy hearing, it could potentially jeopardize the closing date, as well as funding.

Under Interfaith’s closing plan, the main hospital and its surgery facilities would close, while its 16 clinics – in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant – and its urgent care facilities would remain open. Patients with medical conditions that could require a hospital stay would be diverted to Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center.

Ashley Papagni/The Brooklyn Ink

Supporters of Interfaith Medical Center rally in front of Brooklyn bankruptcy court. Ashley Papagni/The Brooklyn Ink

The hospital’s operating costs are now $3 million a month, according to the hospital’s attorneys.

Representing the other side was Charles Simpson, attorney for Interfaith Medical Foundation. Simpson is suing to keep the hospital open, and requested that more plans be presented.

David Neier, the attorney representing DASNY, prefers to have control over Interfaith’s closure plan.

“Terminating exclusivity will only make this case confusing and more expensive,” said Neier. “But I’m happy to hear every plan.”

Judge Craig seemed happy to hear those words. “Looks like there is a common ground here.”

Attorneys representing the Brooklyn hospital and the state of New York will now have to hash things out with those running the facility– doctors, nurses and its labor associations.

No mediation date was set.

 

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