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State Funds To Temporarily Keep Interfaith Medical Center Open

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TWC News: State Funds To Temporarily Keep Interfaith Medical Center Open
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Brooklyn's struggling Interfaith Medical Center is getting a last-second lifeline, as days before a closure plan was slated to begin, the state announced it would keep the hospital open through March 7. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

Interfaith Medical Center looked more like a disco at times Monday, but it also could have been mistaken for a church.

Staff members at Interfaith Medical Center displayed their faith, grateful after being told that Governor Andrew Cuomo put up $8 million in state dollars to keep the acute care center open for 10 more weeks.

"It was like Merry Christmas," said Charles Jeffries, a housekeeper of 28 years at Interfaith Medical Center. "I told my wife, my children, 'You don't have to get me nothing for Christmas. I'm going to get you all something, you all be happy. What I need is my hospital to stay open, and that's it."

Jeffries came to work on this day, like many of the other thousand-plus employees, thinking that it could be his last, with closure slated to begin the day after Christmas. It's been months of stress, now released.

In July, a federal bankruptcy judge rejected Interfaith's restructuring plan because it didn't adequately correct the facility's financial losses.

The 230-bed hospital focuses on the elderly, mental heath and those who are HIV positive.

"Most of the individuals who live in central Brooklyn are low-income individuals who desperately need a hospital," said Public Advocate-elect Letitia James.

Elected leaders reached out to the governor for the reprieve.

"Now, we've got some more work to do," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn.

Politicians say that the long-term future of Interfaith depends upon a partnership with another provider and the federal government approving billions of additional dollars to the state in what's called a Medicaid waiver.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said he is committed to making sure that central Brooklyn has adequate health care.

"In terms of Interfaith, I am committed to making sure that community has access to health care locally," de Blasio said. "I've spent a lot of time at Interfaith, a lot of time with the hard-working people who work at Interfaith. I want to make sure we protect the health needs of the community. We are working closely as we speak with the state to make sure that there are efforts in place to continue health care at Interfaith while we seek a larger solution there."

De Blasio wants to create a Brooklyn Health Authority to drive down costs and coordinate spending, but that, too, would require the governor to be on board.

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