Jill Furillo, Executive Director of NYSNA, highlights that Interfaith is the go-to hospital for 160,000 residents of Central Brooklyn. It is a full service institution and "the largest private behavioral health facility in Brooklyn, providing 14% of in-patient psychiatric care in the borough, or one of every 25 psychiatric beds in all of New York City." Brooklyn residents have come to rely on these services. Currently Interfaith is more than full: it is operating at 104% capacity, in part due to season-related sickness and injury. But it is in bankruptcy because "more than 60% of Interfaith’s patients are enrolled in Medicaid, which translates to low reimbursements to hospitals. A small portion of just-awarded Medicaid waiver funds would keep Interfaith open for care."
After more than a year of rallies, marches, court hearings, and even arrests, we have reached an agreement with SUNY on a new process that has the best chance of LICH remaining a hospital and which we hope will lead to the best possible outcome for the patients served by LICH.
This groundbreaking agreement requires SUNY to engage in a new open and transparent process for determining who will take over LICH, a process which prioritizes operators committed to running a full-service hospital and which gives the community significant decision-making power. Never before has the community had a voice in determining the future of a hospital.
LICH nurses continue to put community needs first. At an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday night, with more than fifty people in attendance, NYSNA RNs, along with doctors, 1199SEIU caregivers, and community members pledged to stay united, to move forward with one voice, and to stick together no matter what. Our coalition has kept the hospital open for more than a year, and our united coalition is the best hope for meeting the healthcare needs of the community.
New Brooklyn Theater will perform “The Death of Bessie Smith” at Interfaith Medical Center. The play centers on a black woman who is refused care at an all-white hospital. This is an important artistic project about healthcare inequality that will take place at a hospital threatened with closure that serves low-income patients of color. The play will begin performances Thursday, January 9, 2014 and run through Sunday, January 19.
Tickets are free, but there is limited availability, so don’t delay. Click here to get your tickets now!
On November 13th, a judge ordered that the hospital must stay open while further mediation occurs between owners that want to close the facility and the advocates of keeping Interfaith Medical Center open for care. NYSNA rallied at the courthouse while proceedings were occurring, and members were heartened by the news.
NYSNA members have noted that the facility is alone in serving the community, and that its closure would leave residents without medical care. Ari Moma, a NYSNA leader and RN in Psychiatric Services at Interfaith, noted that "today's decision to move forward with mediation was a positive step toward finding a solution that maintains healthcare access in Central Brooklyn. We are looking forward to contributing to the conversation with the goal of ensuring that any plan for the future of Interfaith takes the needs of the community into account.”
Moma went on to note that mental health services are of particular concern: “The Affordable Care Act mandates insurers to treat mental health care on par with physical health so the demand for psychiatric care will soon expand - at the same time we've seen cuts in mental health services, with fewer in-patient psychiatric beds in Brooklyn. Interfaith is the largest private provider of psychiatric services in the borough and essential to the care of thousands of mental health patients."
Last January, we opened the morning newspaper and found out that SUNY planned to close LICH, the hospital where I’ve helped save lives for 30 years. I immediately knew the effort that would have to be put forth to fight for LICH’s life. Slumping into a chair, I said “I can’t do this again,” but I knew that it had to be done and I, we, would do it. LICH nurses never walk away from a fight.