New York State has promised to give the financially distressed SUNY Downstate Medical Center $89 million over the next two fiscal years.
In February the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center said it might run out of money by May. Since then it has taken measures to keep from running out until early fall, according to Downstate spokesman Bob Bellafiore. The center has $154 million in debt outstanding.
Downstate was seeking $386 million over four fiscal years for itself and roughly $100 million more for to help establish a public benefit corporation for Brooklyn hospitals. The $89 million will be enough to operate and pay its bills, Downstate spokesman Bellafiore said. The “sustainability plan” for Downstate was announced on Monday at the center’s central hospital in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn by Lora Lefebvre, SUNY associate vice chancellor for health affairs.
The $89 million will come from existing programs, previously approved by the governor and the legislature, Bellafiore said. The NYS Health Department has discretion over how the programs’ money is spent and no legislative action needed.
The state has promised $71 million for fiscal 2013-14 and $18 million for fiscal 2014-15.
In addition to the monetary aid, the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said it will support legislation to create a Brooklyn health care corporation. By banding together with Downstate, Brooklyn hospitals would be able to negotiate better terms with vendors, Lefebvre said
To handle money losses at one of Downstate’s three hospitals, Long Island College Hospital, Downstate plans to reduce the hospital’s bed count. It is seeking other medical providers to take over the buildings with the condition that they continue to provide some sort of medical care from them.
In late June, Downstate’s chief medical officer declared that a stream of medical staff resignations had compromised patient care in LICH’s emergency room. He ordered the emergency room closed, despite a judge’s order that the hospital remain open.
A Brooklyn judge ruled that the closing of the emergency room was in contempt of his order that the hospital remain open.
While SUNY and Downstate officials were presenting their sustainability plan inside Downstate Medical Center on Monday, over 100 protesters marched on the sidewalk outside calling for Downstate to keep LICH open. Contrary to Downstate’s claims, there has been no mass exodus of doctors and nurses from LICH, LICH nurse Maribel Agosto told the assembled crowd.
“We say Gov. Cuomo, hands off our hospitals,” the protesters chanted.