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Communities rally to save troubled hospital

By David Kene | 7/11/2013, 11:15 a.m. | Updated on 7/11/2013, 11:15 a.m.
By next week, Interfaith Medical Center (IMC) may close. Hundreds of Brooklynites have taken to the streets to rally to ...
Interfaith

By next week, Interfaith Medical Center (IMC) may close. Hundreds of Brooklynites have taken to the streets to rally to save the valuable institution. They have even showed up outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Midtown office to demand that he intervene to stop the restructuring of the Brooklyn hospital.

City Council candidate Kirsten Foy has been intricately involved in the protests and told the AmNews at a second rally at King Emmanuel Baptist church in Bed-Stuy, “We know that the governor has asked the federal government for funds, but if the government doesn’t agree to help before the July 15 deadline, it still remains the responsibility of the state.”

On Tuesday, hospital workers, residents and members of SEIU held an impromptu march from the hospital to the church rally, much to the chagrin of community affairs officers from the 81st Precinct. The officers were caught off guard but did not stop the march.

The nearly 100-year-old institution has been the go-to primary medical center for Brooklyn patients, but it is operating at a deficit and on borrowed time, and is set to officially restructure itself by Monday—unless a last-ditch effort is made in Albany to pump roughly $30 million into IMC.

Interfaith isn’t the only hospital whose future seems precarious. On Wednesday, activists and unionized hospital workers rallied at SUNY School of Optometry in Manhattan to protest what appears to be the imminent closure of Long Island Hospital College as well.

Activists and observers have reiterated that the costs of caring for poor patients have always been a challenge for hospitals that were community-minded, like IMC. However, that challenge of offering poor patients a myriad of medical services while under the scrutiny of best practices and budget constraints of Medicaid (which pays the bills for poorer patients), has been a relentless balancing act that has kept IMC’s finances precarious.

To its credit, IMC has already taken steps to ensure that continuity for part of its services remain. Two weeks ago, IMC unveiled the Atlantic Urgent Care Center (AUCC) a new ambulatory care center designed to provide convenient and prompt health care for non-critical, non-emergency and non-life-threatening medical conditions.

While AUCC is a part of IMC, it “accepts walk-in patients of all ages during all hours of operation and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries,” according to IMC statements. The new center, which is affixed to the East Building of IMC, has a full spectrum of resources and support, including on-site diagnostic services such as X-rays, phlebotomy and EKG. AUCC is open 12 hours a day Monday through Friday, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A series of rallies are scheduled throughout the week until Monday.