Rallies to save Interfaith Medical Center continue

Nayaba Arinde | 8/22/2013, 9:21 a.m. | Updated on 8/22/2013, 9:21 a.m.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New York Assembly Member Annette Robinson and community leaders called for the preservation of health care services ...

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, New York Assembly Member Annette Robinson and community leaders called for the preservation of health care services at the Interfaith Medical Center on Wednesday morning. Feelings are running high as a coalition of community members and elected officials, including the Rev. Herbert Daughtry; activists Sharonnie Perry and Wilmon Cousar; City Comptroller John Liu; and City Council candidates Robert Cornegy, Jelani Mashariki and Kirsten Foy met. The press conference called for city, state and federal governments to work collectively to keep Interfaith Medical Center open. Jeffries’ office said, “As a safety net hospital, the Interfaith Medical Center plays a crucial role in the delivery of health care services in the Bed-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights communities. If the Interfaith Medical Center closes, thousands of residents in Central Brooklyn will lose access to quality medical care.”

As protestors are preparing to link arms around the hospital this Thursday, August 22 at 4.30pm, Jeffries noted that Interfaith Medical Center serves the Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights communities in central Brooklyn. After years of financially struggling to maintain operational costs, Interfaith Medical Center declared bankruptcy in December 2012, which required the preparation of a closure plan. This closure plans remains pending until Aug. 26, when officials will meet for a bankruptcy hearing. According to Jeffries’ office, there is a meeting set to take place in early September between Jeffries and Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Jeffries said, “Health care institutions throughout New York City are under intense assault, and Brooklyn has now become ground zero for the conflict. The people of central Brooklyn suffer disproportionately higher rates of HIV infection, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, childhood obesity and infant mortality.”

Protestors say that in addition to providing many other critical health care services, Interfaith Medical Center is the only hospital in central Brooklyn that provides emergency services, pediatric and surgical care. It is also the largest provider of psychiatric care in the borough.

Jeffries proclaimed, “Bedford-Stuyvesant needs more medical care, not less, and we will not tolerate the closure of Interfaith Medical Center in our community. Over the last several weeks, we have had several productive conversations with state administration officials, and we look forward to meeting personally with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in early September to discuss ways to keep our hospital open.”

State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery said, “Brooklyn is in a deepening health care crisis. Interfaith Medical Center has been a major provider of primary, emergency and psychiatric care in northern and central Brooklyn for decades, and its closure would be an incredible and dangerous hardship. We must do all we can for IMC.”

“As a community, we continue to stand united in the face of adversity to do everything in our power to prevent the closing of Interfaith Medical Center—this vital and important community medical facility,” said Robinson. “I know well what devastation will befall my community if this hospital is forced to close its doors. We gather again as elected officials, unions, hospital staff and community leaders to send a loud and clear message to the governor of this state: Interfaith must remain open!”