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A new report released by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio warns of devastating consequences if Interfaith Medical Center closes next month, eliminating vital psychiatric services. Interfaith is Brooklyn’s largest private provider of psychiatric care, with 67,000 patients receiving out-patient care and 1,750 in-patient hospitalizations each year. According to de Blasio’s report, “Tearing Brooklyn’s Safety Net,” losing those services would push remaining hospitals across Brooklyn to 107 percent capacity—a dangerous deficit that will leave tens of thousands of psychiatric patients without care.

> Click here to download the full report (.pdf)

De Blasio assailed the free-fall closure of Interfaith, and urged the city, state and hospital’s board to come to terms for an orderly restructuring that preserves vital services—including psychiatric care. To help Interfaith continue to provide those services and become more financially sustainable in the long-term, de Blasio is also calling on the federal government to waive a cap on the percentage of patients with mental illness a hospital like Interfaith is permitted to accept.

“These haphazard closures are stripping neighborhoods of clinics and emergency rooms. Here at Interfaith, we could lose the single biggest private provider of psychiatric care in all of Brooklyn. There’s no contingency here, and Brooklynites will pay the price if this shutdown goes forward,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “We will not let that happen.”

The report shows a stunning 60 percent of all patients discharged from Interfaith have a psychiatric condition as either the principal diagnosis or comorbidity, compared to 27 percent across Brooklyn.

De Blasio recommended the follow steps to aid in Interfaith’s restructuring:

  • Waive the cap on the percentage of patients with mental illness Interfaith is permitted to admit. Right now, hospitals cannot receive Medicaid matching funds if more than 51% of their patient roster consists of people between the ages of 22 and 64 with severe mental illness. This common sense change would allow Interfaith to accept more psychiatric patients, shoring up their balance sheets and stabilizing the hospital.
  • Better integrate the City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation into existing health networks, by accepting referrals from voluntary hospitals, and stepping in to provide services when voluntary hospitals are insufficient or unable to meet community care needs. 
  • Establish a Brooklyn Health Authority, empowered through control of Federal Medicaid Waiver finds to guide a master plan for the equitable reorganization and reform of Brooklyn hospitals and health care. The authority should encourage existing hospitals with excess beds to transform some of their beds into inpatient psychiatric beds in order to meet the growing demand for psychiatric care across Brooklyn.

“The patients who would be most affected by Interfaith’s closure are also the most vulnerable -- individuals who are struggling with the impact of severe mental illness,” said Dr. Flavio Casoy, Executive Vice President of the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare and a Psychiatry Fellow. “Not only are these diseases catastrophic and deeply marginalized, but they also make it very hard for these patients to access medical care, putting them at higher risk for chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The plan by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio melds out-of-the-box thinking and common sense to employ every possible tool to stabilize the hospital and, with it, the patient population served by the hospitals of North and Central Brooklyn. We have a moral obligation not to let these patients down or let our mental health safety-net be stretched beyond repair.”

“We need an immediate moratorium on all hospital closures in our state,” said Jill Furillo, RN executive director of the New York State Nurses Association. “Padlocking the doors of Interfaith would have a devastating impact on Central Brooklyn patients, many of whom already struggle to get the care they need. There is a growing health care crisis in Brooklyn and throughout New York, and a shortage of psychiatric in-patient beds that would be compounded by the closure of Interfaith. The state must not decimate vital psychiatric services or dump mentally ill patients on the streets without access to care.”

Click here to download the full report (.pdf)

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