Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brooklyn Hospital Closings - Updated

UPDATED : Interfaith Medical Center plans to file for bankruptcy this week. (Revised : Sunday 02 Dec 2012 8:52 p.m.)

About ten months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo floated the idea of hospital closings to cut the New York State Medicaid budget, there came an article in The New York Times that purports to portray Gov. Cuomo as a saviour of Brooklyn hospitals, but the reality is that he has been trying for years now to close safety net hospitals in Brooklyn in order to cut the state's healthcare budget.

In February 2011, it was announced that Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn had been saved from closing ; it eventually merged with SUNY Downstate Hospital.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo found enough state grant money in February 2011 to save Long Island College Hospital, NY1 reported. Because of that 2011 deal, 2,500 employees, who work at LICH, will be able to keep their jobs.

But in the time since, Gov. Cuomo has been window-dressing the New York State budget by closing down entire hospitals in a scorched earth campaign to make savage cuts to Medicaid, the state of public health be damned. In fact, two years after Gov. Cuomo portrayed himself as a hero of public health, employees of LICH and residents and patients of LICH participated in a protest right outside of Gov. Cuomo's Manhattan offices. As time went on, Gov. Cuomo came to be seen for his true intention : willing to shut down entire hospitals to make severe budget cuts off the backs of the people most in need : underinsured and insured hospital patients.

Aiding and abetting Gov. Cuomo has been neoliberal Christine Quinn, who, as Speaker of the New York City Council, has oversight of the city budget, including that of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which is charged with overseeing the state of public health here in New York City. Speaker Quinn also administers billions of dollars in City Council discretionary funds, which, instead of allocating resources to develop a truly sustainable funding model for healthcare, makes disbursements according to political expediency that benefits her immediate political and personal ambitions. To wit, during the time that she has been in charge of City Council, Speaker Quinn has stood by and done thing as ten city hospitals have closed :

  • Westchester Square Medical Center up in the Bronx was sold in 2013 after its own bankruptcy proceeding and is expected to be downsized into an urgent care center ;
  • Peninsula Hospital Center in Far Rockaway declared closed in 2012 after having declared bankruptcy ;
  • North General Hospital in Harlem declared bankruptcy in 2010 ;
  • St. Vincent's Hospital in the West Village was shut down in 2010 after shady backroom meetings ;
  • St. John's Queens Hospital in Elmhurst went bankrupt in 2009 ;
  • Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica went bankrupt in 2009 ;
  • Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills decided to close in 2008 ;
  • Cabrini Medical Center in Manhattan closed in 2008 ;
  • Victory Memorial Hospital in Bay Ridge closed in 2008 ; and
  • St. Vincent's Midtown in Manhattan closed in 2007.

In October 2010, New York magazine published an exposé written by Mark Levine, which described the dangerous public health issues resulting from all the hospital closings.

"Last year, a pair of hospitals in Queens closed suddenly, just before the outbreak of H1N1, causing overflow conditions in the emergency rooms of nearby facilities, one of which set up a triage area on a loading dock."

In January of 2011, The New York Post has made a list more Brooklyn hospitals, which are in danger of closing, if New York State government makes major cuts in Medicaid funding :

  • Brooklyn Center
  • Brookdale
  • Interfaith
  • Kingsbrook
  • Wyckoff

In the summer of 2012, members of the Healthcare for the 99% Working Group of Occupy Wall Street participated in a demonstration outside of Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in solidarity with employees and residents of that community, to say "No" to the closing of Wyckoff.

For more information, see : Governor's Medicaid cuts may kill 10 city hospitals. (Note that the link to The Post article sometimes does not work. Hmmmm. Try this link for some corroborating information about the hospital closings that would come about as a result of Gov. Cuomo's Medicaid cuts.)

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