Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center Likely to Start Its Closing Plan

By Sarah Matheson, Epoch Times
November 4, 2013 8:25 pm Last Updated: November 5, 2013 6:11 am

NEW YORK—The Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn is one step closer to closing its inpatient facilities, after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carla Craig granted the hospital exclusivity to submit a closing plan.

That exclusivity ended in late July, and at that time the IM Foundation (IMF), a nonprofit housed in Interfaith, submitted an alternative closure plan for the hospital. It was an attempt to maintain some of the inpatient facilities.

Under Interfaith’s closing plan all inpatient beds would be removed, and only the hospital’s 16 clinics, in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, and its urgent care facilities would remain open. The main hospital and its surgery facilities would close. Patients with medical conditions that could require a hospital stay would be diverted to another medical center.

The IMF plan would have allowed 95 inpatient psychiatric beds to remain and a further 100 nonpsychiatric inpatient beds. The hospital currently has 287 beds, and 117 are dedicated psychiatric beds.

At a bankruptcy court hearing in Brooklyn on Nov. 4, Craig questioned IMF about where the funding would come from to keep the additional facilities open.

A representative from the Attorney General’s Office and the attorney representing the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) said the funding the hospital had recently received from the state was agreed upon on the condition that the hospital would implement its closing plan.The state provided $20 million designating Interfaith a vital area provider and funding also came from DASNY.

“We believe the hospital is hopelessly insolvent … with liabilities that will never be paid back,” said David Neier, the attorney representing DASNY. “If it wasn’t in bankruptcy it would have to immediately shut down. In the view of the people providing the funds, it is not sustainable.”

The hospital’s operating costs are now $3.3 million a month, according to the hospital’s attorneys.

Craig said she was concerned that the longer the hospital takes to start implementing a closing plan, the more in debt it will be. Closing is expected to start in late December.

“The risk that the debtor takes is that ultimately the closure plan is not approved and we don’t have the benefits of the DASNY, we will be that much further in the hole,” Craig said.

Hospital spokeswoman Melissa Krantz said the hospital got into financial difficulty after Medicaid reimbursements were cut by 40 percent from 2010 to 2012. The state of New York is the hospital’s only source of funding.

Interfaith filed for bankruptcy in December last year. In June, it submitted a restructuring plan to the Department of Health but was told to submit a closure plan instead.

Interfaith’s next bankruptcy court hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Nov. 13. After a string of adjournments on the case, Craig said she hoped all parties “really plan on going forward that day,” unless they have a compelling reason to postpone again. Craig is likely to decide that day whether she accepts the hospital’s closure plan.