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Posted on 7/29/2013
With two Brooklyn hospitals facing closure this summer, and more teetering on the brink, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio released a plan today to prevent the loss of more community hospitals and transform Brooklyn’s health care system. In his plan, “Saving Brooklyn’s Health Care,” de Blasio calls for the creation of a Brooklyn Health Authority, with sweeping powers to transform hospitals to sustain them for the long haul.
> Scroll down to read the Public Advocate's plan or download it here (.pdf)
> View photos from the press conference
Brooklyn’s freestanding neighborhood hospitals are some of the oldest and most financially strained in the city, with high levels of publicly insured patients, and many falling prey to internal mismanagement. Each hospital that closes leaves Brooklynites farther from the nearest primary care doctor, preventative services and emergency room. Demand for health care has never been direr in the borough—where a quarter of residents don’t have access to basic, primary medical care.
Brooklyn needs a plan to preserve these essential services and bring its hospitals—all of them—into the 21st century, and make the borough a national model for sustainable, community-level health care. Brooklyn could serve as a national model for innovative urban health care. De Blasio’s plan calls for:
- Creating a Brooklyn Health Authority appointed by the Mayor and the Governor to coordinate spending of health dollars, drive down costs by helping Brooklyn’s small hospitals negotiate as a collective, and push for higher care standards.
- Preventing free-fall hospital bankruptcies that risk shuttering existing health facilities without new alternatives in place.
- Coordinating health facility construction under a new Health Care Transformation and Construction Fund, which will help site and develop new clinics, ambulatory care and hospital construction based on community need.
- Implementing higher standards of care to treat chronic diseases and prevent Hospital Acquired Infections, starting with city-run hospitals like Kings County, Woodhull and Coney Island. Two-thirds of Brooklyn’s hospitals were identified by the New York State Department of Health as having rates of Hospital Acquired Infections “significantly higher” than the state average.
“Community hospitals in Brooklyn are standing on the brink. If we don’t act, real estate developers will turn these critical health care facilities into luxury condos for the wealthy, while some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city will lose their emergency rooms, clinics and doctors. These battles—L.I.C.H, Interfaith and all those coming in the months ahead—are all parts of a bigger whole. We need a plan that keeps the doors of Brooklyn’s hospitals open for the long haul,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
"Bill de Blasio has taken the strongest stand against hospital closures in Brooklyn, and backed that up with a clear, well thought-out plan to ensure we have a sustainable healthcare system over the long term," said George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers, the largest union in New York City.
“Bill de Blasio’s vision for protecting Brooklyn’s health care is an important and thoughtful proposal for real action,” said Dr. Sepideh Sedgh, President of the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare, and a fellow practicing in Brooklyn. “After years of careening from crisis to crisis and having the services that our patients rely on eroded by squabbles over funding and whose name gets to be on top of the letterhead, Bill de Blasio’s plan helps reset the focus to where it should have been all along: how we can come together to provide the quality health care that Brooklynites need and deserve.”
“Brooklyn patients are in danger. It’s time for our state officials to step in to save Brooklyn hospitals and protect Brooklyn patients. We’ve already seen the chaos caused by SUNY’s diversion of ambulances from L.I.C.H. More of our city’s most vulnerable patients will suffer if New York State allows Interfaith or other safety-net hospitals to close,” said Jill Furillo, RN, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association. “Brooklyn hospitals can survive and thrive – with fairer access to state and federal funding, and more planning and coordination. We thank the office of the Public Advocate for putting forward a real plan to protect Brooklyn patients and improve their access to high-quality care.”
“The destabilization of our healthcare institutions through both potential hospital closures and privatization should be a concern to all Brooklyn residents," said Council Member Letitia James. "While the demand for quality, sustainable healthcare has risen, it is clear that Brooklyn needs a revitalization model that focuses on our borough’s own healthcare needs—Public Advocate de Blasio’s 4-point plan is that model.”
> Download the full plan here (.pdf)