On the heels of the Obama administration agreeing to let New York reinvest $8 billion in Medicaid savings into its health care system, elected officials and community activists rallied on Monday, Feb. 24 at Interfaith Medical Center in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to keep his commitment and use the money to keep Interfaith open and serving the community.
While Gov. Cuomo has stated he wants to transform some existing hospitals into urgent- and primarycare centers, emergency units and specialized-treatment facilities, those at the rally argued that it is essential for Interfaith to continue as a full-service hospital.
“We should not be talking about how the community can survive with less healthcare, we should be talking about how to provide the community with more healthcare. People of color depend on Interfaith and as the most underserved area in the city in terms of healthcare, closing the hospital is literally a matter of life and death,” Diane Porter, president of the 1MFoundation, said. “We look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo in keeping Interfaith Medical Center open as a full-serviced hospital.”
“Ain’t no stopping us now, Interfaith and healthcare is about to turn around. We are continuing to stay focused as we fight to save Interfaith. We are thankful for the Federal Government granting the wavier monies for New York, but we are being vigilant in ensuring that Brooklyn, and especially Interfaith, gets its fair share,” Sharonnie Perry, Chair Community Advisory Board Interfaith Medical Center, said “We have had an epidemic of hospital closures in New York City in the last decade. Now, however, there is a glimmer of hope because of the recent agreement that we made possible by working together to preserve healthcare at Long Island College Hospital. We must capitalize on the momentum from LlCH, and the recently won Medicaid Waiver to fight for Interfaith and all of our hospitals. Together, we can and must ensure that no community is left without access to healthcare,” New York City Public Advocate Letitia James said.
“Securing a Medicaid waiver from the Obama administration was a crucial step that my local elected colleagues and I have been urging for to take Brooklyn hospitals off life support and give them needed aid. Resources like these will help advance the essential work of improving health care in our borough, an effort which must include patients, physicians, providers and political leaders alike in partnership. We must do all we can to give Interfaith the same care and attention that LlCH has received in recent weeks and months, as we work quickly to tackle the health care crisis in every corner of our city,” Borough President Eric Adams said.
“The decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to grant New York State’s Medicaid waiver application is a tremendous victory for safety net hospitals like Interfaith Medical Center.
Throughout this process, our Congressional Delegation remained unified in the pursuit of a favorable decision by the federal government. It is now important to make sure that the billions of dollars that will be made available to New York State are spent in the communities that need it most,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, said. “We must remain vigilant to protect the hospitals on which the people of Brooklyn depend. To secure the Medicaid Waiver, we raised our voices and insisted on access to critical health care services. Now, we must remain actively involved in the process as the funds secured by the Medicaid Waiver are distributed,” Rep. Yvette D. Clarke said.
“I speak out today to lend my voice to the many who are aggressively advocating for Interfaith Hospital to remain open as a full service Hospital. I was pleased to learn that the Obama Administration agreed to let New York reinvest $8 billion in Medicaid savings into the State’s health care system. My colleagues and I from the very beginning have urged Governor Cuomo to keep the doors of Interfaith open. With the Medicaid savings, Cuomo has the opportunity to insure that happens. I again call on the governor to provide the funding to this vital medical institution that services over 200,000 outpatients annually, receives 50,000 emergency room visits, and employs over 1,500 full-time health care professionals. The Central Brooklyn community deserves nothing less,” Assemblywoman Annette Robinson said.
“This Medicaid waiver is the culmination of inspiring efforts by our leaders in Washington, my colleagues in the city and state, and countless individuals – whose tireless organizing is the reason Interfaith is still open today. With this $8 billion in Medicaid savings, New York State now has the chance to preserve the most basic access to healthcare for the hundreds of thousands of struggling Brooklynites who depend on Interfaith. But there is more work to be done. We have to keep fighting until we take every step possible to end our borough’s hospital crisis,” Assemblyman Walter Mosely said.
“The Medicaid waiver we’re celebrating wasn’t simply granted to us. We came together and with one united voice, we fought for it. Receiving the waiver is a major victory for our coalition and our community but it’s just a means to an end. Today we send the message that we remain united in the fight to achieve our overarching goal, which is maintaining the critical resource that a full service Interfaith Hospital is for our community,” Councilman Robert E. Cornegy said.
In 2011, Interfaith filed for bankruptcy and is currently in discussions with the state to remain open and serving the community of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn.
Annually, Interfaith provides more than 200,000 outpatient clinic visits, 50,000 emergency department visits and 11,000 discharges. Of the outpatient clinic visits, more than 90,000 are in the behavioral health area. In addition, it employs 1,516 full-time health care professionals and has 287 beds, 120 of which are for psychiatric patients.