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Brooklynites Implore State to Save Struggling Hospitals

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Doctor, Stethescope, Health (Flickr: Bryan Warman)

Brooklyn residents and health care workers urged the state to help save struggling hospitals — many of which serve the borough's poorest citizens — before a panel charged with examining the viability of the hospitals on Thursday.

"The real purpose of this workgroup is to take a look at the overall healthcare system... and come up with recommendations for making it more effective, for improving health outcomes and ensuring that in the long run, we have a system that is in fact sustainable," said New York State Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson.

Dr. Abdul Malik fears there is a real threat of hospital closures in Central Brooklyn, where he's worked as a cardiologist for more than 20 years. He said there is a culture of mismanagement.

"The Department [of Health] has just kept throwing them money — public money," he said, "and did not really do any due diligence to ask tough questions to this management: what are they doing with the money?"

Ivonne Cain, a registered nurse at Interfaith Medical Center, treats many patients who travel great distances from neighborhoods where hospitals have closed.

"In Manhattan you have two, three hospitals across the street from each other," she said. "Here in Brooklyn, we serve areas and hospitals that are far apart."

The chair of the Brooklyn Work Group, Stephen Berger, oversaw an earlier, statewide effort that led to dozens of hospital and nursing home closures across New York.

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