An East Flatbush hospital that serves a predominantly Black population is moving “full steam ahead” with plans to close its medical beds by July 1, despite community leaders saying the neighborhood needs them now more than ever.

Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, in the heart of Little Carribean, has already begun diverting patients to other hospitals in order to close more than 200 beds by July 1.

The action comes after a year of delays for the planned closure, which is part of a $700 million state plan to consolidate three hospitals in Brooklyn under provider One Brooklyn Health.

Originally, the plan was to close June 30, 2020, but that was delayed due to the sudden new need for hospital beds, and particularly ICU beds, in the wake of the pandemic.

Now, as a real closure date looms closer, the Kingsbrook Community Action Committee — a coalition of concerned locals and hospital staff — is sounding the alarm before it’s too late.

A ‘Racist’ Plan

Julie Keefe, a respiratory care nurse at Kingsbrook and member of the committee, told BK Reader the hospital was “moving full steam ahead” on the closure of inpatient beds. Staff have got notice that their positions will be eliminated by June 30, she said. One Brooklyn Health confirmed the July 1 closure date to BK Reader.

Keefe said the hospital plans to halt admissions from the emergency room June 9, and are already diverting patients coming from the nursing home next door.

“When residents there have a medical emergency now they are not permitted by management to be admitted to Kingsbrook but are put in an ambulance and transported out to a different, further away hospital. This is likely costing lives already,” she said. However, One Brooklyn Health disputes this.

At the intersection of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues.

The committee says, as of April 22, Kingsbrook’s intensive care unit was 99% full and the 2nd fullest ICU in NYC. It is asking for a moratorium on closing hospital beds until after the pandemic.

The Kingsbrook Community Action Committee has also criticized the closure of the hospital as a “racist plan.” According to its statistics, 85% of the community Kingsbrook serves is Black, and 48% are immigrants.

The group says that One Brooklyn Health’s plan projects only 30% of current Kingsbrook inpatient volume will go to the two other OBH hospitals, Brookdale and Interfaith, and the other 70% will have to either go to another hospital or “will not materialize.”

Interfaith Hospital.

“Evidence from past closings shows that often about 30% of inpatients simply disappear — they don’t trust other sites, don’t know where to go, can’t get there,” the group says.

While Manhattan has six hospital beds per 1,000 residents, Brooklyn has only two per 1,000, they say.

Keefe said the cash-strapped hospital wanted to reconfigure to attract more lucrative, privately-insured patients. However, she said this meant dumping its current Medicaid-insured local patients on to public hospitals.

“But these hospitals are also cash strapped and not receiving funding increases for this added volume…. These are human rights issues.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Diana Richardson from Wikimedia.

She said anyone who was concerned about the closure should call and email New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Cuomo and Northwell are the architects of this closure plan created years ago. OBH executives now refer to that as a ‘state mandate.’ This is Cuomo’s plan and he has the power to stop it. He should be held accountable for it.”

Hospital responds 

One Brooklyn Health CEO LaRay Brown told BK Reader no lives were at risk from the upcoming closure.

She said, as the acute care medical and surgical beds will be closed by July 1, the hospital made the “prudent” decision to begin sending nursing home residents who may require longer stays to a sister hospital.

“Residents’ lives are absolutely not being put at risk. The determination to transfer a resident is strictly based on that resident’s clinical condition.”

After July 1, Kingsbrook would continue to operate a full service Emergency Department, inpatient psychiatric and rehabilitation services and a range of outpatient services as part of a “Medical Village,” she said.

Photo: Mateo Ruiz Gonzalez for BK Reader.

Brown said that all hospital staff have been offered positions at Interfaith, Brookdale, or in the new Kingsbrook.

“Most of that staff had selected their new positions last November/December when the beds were to have closed in  January,” she said.

Meanwhile, BK Reader‘s questions to Governor Cuomo’s Office were forwarded to the New York State Department of Health.

“The Department supports One Brooklyn Health Service as it moves forward with its plan to transform Kingsbrook into an integrated health care campus for the future focused upon Centers of Excellence in Ambulatory Care and Long-Term Care, while working to develop community-based health centers throughout Central Brooklyn,” spokesperson Jonah Bruno said.

Politicians weigh in

In recent days, some politicians have come out hard against the closure.

Councilmember Farah Louis. Photo credit: farahlouis.com

Council member Farah Louis said the plan to close the hospital was developed years ago and is now “badly out of touch” with present-day needs.

“Kingsbrook is what is known as a ‘sanctuary hospital’ — it overwhelmingly serves working-class people on Medicaid and Medicare who need access to convenient and capable health care – now more than ever,” she said.

“We cannot deprive an underserved and overlooked community of essential medical services and healthcare in the heart of Brooklyn.”

City Councillor Carlina Rivera also recently appeared at a “Beds Not Body Bags” Vigil to save the hospital on May 22.

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Make a Donation

BK Reader is brought to you for free daily. Please consider supporting independent local news by making a donation here. Whether it is $1 or $100, no donation is too big or too small!

Jessy Edwards

Jessy Edwards is a freelance writer based in Bushwick. Originally from New Zealand, she has written for the BBC, Rolling Stone, NBC New York, CNBC and her hometown newspaper, The Dominion Post, among others.

Join the Conversation

9

  1. The Community at large has never been informed about this racist plan, that’s being put in place by someone I consider to be Judas. The CEO is getting $1.5 million to deliver valuable land on the Kingsbrook Estate to developers to build “affordable housing” for who? These developers “Dattner and Monadnock” could care less about people already in the living community, housing the homeless or the overcrowding their developments will create. This ill conceived plan has Alexander Rovt, a fertilizer magnate and billionaire from the Ukraine, at the helm of Kingsbrook Nursing Home. He is also the owner of several nursing homes where many lives were lost during the pandemic. He and his family have contributed heavily to Coumo’s many campaigns. Is this a conflict of interest? I want a moratorium on this travesty that’s going to be inflicted on long-time patients of the hospital, to be done immediately. We are calling on our Elected Officials to do their JOB and come to the table with their constituents. LARAY BROWN and ANDREW CUOMO must go!!!!!

  2. I know everyone is going to disagree with this comment but the sooner this hospital is closed the better ! I live 3blocks from the hospital…I was Patient @the hospital 10 years ago. I am aware of the need for quality medical care this area of Brooklyn. The key is quality professional care…something this hospital hasn’t offered patients (and people of the community ) in years !

  3. Most of Kingsbrook’s admissions were unnecessary, anyway. Just crooked docs collecting from Medicare and Medicaid.

  4. This is Long Island College Hospital 2.0,
    the Fortis group (the political contributor) is building zero affordable housing on the old LICH Campus, overlooking Manhattan harbor.
    Absolutely 100% another land grab.
    I call “Toro Fical”
    Shame on all the local Brooklyn politicians, especially those running this for election this fall!
    WWFFLI

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *