Officials Discuss Measures To Save Brookdale Hospital
Calling proposed changes to the ad-ministration of Brookdale University Hospital “dire straits,” State Senator John Sampson made a commitment to fight to keep the institution off the chopping block. He led an emergency community meeting on Thursday, January 26th, addressing the planned closure, shrink-ing or possible merge with another medi-cal facility. For now it seems the fight may get some therapy for the ailing in-stitution.
Sampson, whose 19th Senatorial Dis-trict covers areas served by the troubled hospital, wants greater advocacy for its sustenance, stressing management re-vamping and other crucial inputs for viability.
“We were successful in having the government look at the situation with Brookdale because we are in extremely dire straits, because of the cuts at federal and state levels funding,” Sampson told the audience. “So now we have to keep this fight relevant.”
During the forum, which took place in the Brooklyn Democratic Academy/ Kappa 5 auditorium in Brownsville, the Canarsie-based senator's remarks were supported by his fellow elected officials who were also at the dais. Councilman Charles Barron, State Assembly-woman Inez D. Barron and 1199 SIEU’s Paulette Forbes, all endorsed the steps being taken to “Save Brookdale.”
Sampson stated that Brookdale Uni-versity Hospital and Medical Center has a deficit of over $350 million with a loss of $21 million in 2011. He claimed that it is not only losing money, but subsistence from elsewhere is drying up.
“We need to reconfigure the way health care is being administered here because if we don’t, a lot of hospitals will be closed,” he said, noting the spe-cific changes facing Brookdale. “There are negotiations going on and a final position will not be there over-night. It's not just to keep it open but to keep it alive as well, so we want to hear from the community about the concerns you have so we can incorporate them as we put up the case for Brook-dale.”
Brookdale, and two other hospitals in the borough, are being looked at for the changes that could possibly suffer high job losses, concentrated absorption of extremely high emergency room visits, hospital admissions and clinic visits, according to industry data.
Arecommendation outfit called the Berger Report lists a consolidation op-tion for Brookdale with another facility. Barron endorsed Sampson’s view that the facility is far from needing a “post mortem,” but rather “prescribed attention for its revival”
Highlighting that the senator has been working diligently on the hospital issue, Assemblywoman Barron slammed the report, and said, “It was prepared with-out meaningful consultation with us, the community which the hospital serves, as to what the situation really is and on our position on it as well.”
Forbes, who is a Brookdale radiologic technologist said, “This hospital has the ability to be vibrant and feasible, and we are prepared to show that.
“Closing Brookdale will mean severe hardships for some of Brooklyn's poorest patients,” she added, lamenting the irksome time and financial experiences patients would be required to seek at other facilities far from their communities.
During the audience session, an area resident blasted the hospital's staff for “uncaring and lackadaisical conduct in dealing with patients.”
Another resident, Letford Palmer, heaped praise for the service. “I can't bash Brookdale. My kids were born there and I had four operations there in the past six years with one lasting over four hours, so I give the staff lots of credit,” he said.
State Assemblyman Nick Perry, who represents the 58th District, and Councilman Jumaane Williams joined the forum late. They agreed that some of those ills stem from a “lack of respect.” Perry acknowledged that the staff suffers from the 'familiarity-breathes-contempt' premise from patients, and pleaded for resources to save the facility.
“Hospitals in Brooklyn are a main source of employment for a lot of people and across the city,” he said. “There are cutbacks on these facilities, so when hospitals close it's not just a setback to health care, but it takes food off the table.
“We have to let the folks in Albany know that this is untouchable,” exclaimed Perry, who was honored years ago as Brookdale Hospital's 'Doctor For A Day.'
Williams emphasized that communities, elected officials and the hospitals have to show solidarity. “We have to be on the same page going forward,” stressed the councilman.
“We have to stay educated on the issues. Go to meetings. Be at the table and keep abreast of what's going on so as to ensure we are not stripped of these facilities,” Sampson added. “We have to get the staff and communities further involved in the process ahead.”
He also told the Canarsie Courier, “Hopefully by next week we'll be able to get the issue settled on getting somebody on that negotiation table at the hospital.”