Crain's: Assessment and Mediation in Brooklyn Hospital Negotiations

Community Assessment for Brooklyn, Interfaith to Require Mediation

Crain’s Health Pulse, November 14, 2013


The various parties who will negotiate the future of Interfaith Medical Center will have plenty of data on which to base their arguments. Stakeholders who want to keep the hospital open, including 1199 SEIU and NYSNA, submitted to the court a community needs assessment that summarizes both prior studies and various proposals for Interfaith. The assessment is online here.


The coalition argues that Brooklyn does not have excess beds but instead lacks enough "health care capacity to meet the needs of the community." Brooklyn needs more primary care, but that fact does not mean that "existing hospital services are not needed and should be eliminated."


There have been at least three community assessment surveys of Brooklyn, including "Need for Caring in North and Central Brooklyn: A Community Health Needs Assessment" (Pulse, April 10). The new report said that based on these assessments, central Brooklyn lacks sufficient access to health care.


If Interfaith closed, for example, the 40,000 emergency department patients it handled annually would overcrowd other Brooklyn hospitals. Interfaith and Long Island College Hospital, also in danger of closing, together provide 9.4% of total emergency services in Brooklyn. Their closures would cut total inpatient capacity in Brooklyn by 8.2%, according to the report.


But there is little agreement on what to do about the Brooklyn health care crisis. The report outlines and summarizes many competing plans.


The plan by a coalition of community groups and labor "seeks to maintain the services at Interfaith within the context of a larger funding and operational proposal" that encompasses central Brooklyn and surrounding areas affected by Interfaith's closure or downsizing.


At a hearing yesterday, the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case of Interfaith Medical Center asked the key players to enter into a mediation to resolve their differences on the hospital's proposed closure and alternative plans. The closure motion was discussed at the hearing, but the judge will reserve rendering a decision until the mediation—which should be held very soon—is concluded. The mediator will be Eastern District bankruptcy court Judge Elizabeth Stong. "We are very pleased with today's decision requiring the many stakeholders … to come together on a plan for the future of Interfaith," said the hospital's board chairman, Albert Wiltshire, in a statement.