Rally happened after Ouster of CEO
By Matthew Fischetti
Piles of union members, faith leaders, and elected representatives from across Kings County filled the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to deliver one message: “Save One Brooklyn Health.”
Safety-net hospital system One Brooklyn Health is an approved co-operator of several medical centers in Brooklyn, including Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center , Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, which largely serve low-income neighborhoods in Central and East Brooklyn.
The rally came off the heels of last month’s ouster of CEO LaRay Brown by the hospital system’s board.Attendees at Wednesday’s rally sharply criticized the board’s move due to its lack of communication with local stakeholders in the decision.
“They are safety net hospitals that largely serve the neighborhoods of color in Central and Eastern Brooklyn. Neighborhoods that have been deprived of high-quality healthcare for too long and we’ve come in and set forth a system in OBH that was finally going to take care of those neighborhoods that have been long neglected,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.
Reynoso continued to emphasize that the system was built by a consortium of different people including residents, union members, local elected officials and faith leaders but recent decisions were not made in consultation of these groups.
“The board of OBH has decided to make decisions that are going to affect all of our communities, are going to affect all of the patients, and are going to affect all of the workers inside these places. They thought that they could make those decisions unilaterally and we’re here to say no,” the Beep continued.
Beyond the recent ouster of Brown, rally goers had several other changes they would like see implemented to One Brooklyn Health, including: restructuring the board to ensure community representation and adherence to governance procedures, supporting independent review of the state’s progress towards Vital Brooklyn goals, including OBH’s financial position, expediting investments in OBH (i.e. fully funding the Rutland Nursing Home at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and more.
One of the other major policy decisions that the coalition is pushing for are changes to Medicaid reimbursement rates.
Last February, The New York State Safety Net Hospital Coalition released a policy proposal which included tie medicaid rates for safety net hospitals to the regional average commercial rates to “ensure access to adequate funding for inpatient and outpatient services.” The changes made to Medicaid rates would help increase funding for the hospital and services.
“And as we know, we have COVID-19. Several issues that compound it, impact, expose us, taught us, showed us the way. We haven’t learned from that,” said Bed-Stuy and Crown Height Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman.
Members of the New York State Nursing Association, 1199SEIU, the Committee of Interns and Residents, Reverend Herbert Daughtry Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and many other Brooklyn representatives also spoke at the rally.
“That led to a staffing crisis. I have a hospital that has issues with staffing, and making sure they get paid. Exuberant costs and underfunding of Medicaid. We are here today because the mission of One Brooklyn Health System is on the line,” she continued.
Rallygoers also called for the Charities Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office to restructure the OBH board to ensure “full community representation and adherence to proper governance procedures.”
The Attorney’s General office is aware of the complaint and is currently reviewing the request. The Governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.