The Brooklyn Hospital Center has announced its intention to merge the operations of its Fort Greene medical facility with those of two other facilities: Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Bushwick and the Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford Stuyvesant. But according to reports in the Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch, The Brooklyn Paper, and Crain’s, the Bedford facility won’t sign off on the plan.
Interim president and CEO for the Bushwick hospital, Ramon Rodriguez, denied that his facility was involved in the merger: “How can an organization say we are involved when we are not?” said Rodriguez. “To say we are involved in the application is strange.” Brooklyn Hospital Center spokeswoman Catherine Derr contended that the merger application was made with the full knowledge of Wyckoff officials: “It has been clear all along we were always going to propose the integration of the three hospitals based on the [state’s] request.”
The Brooklyn Hospital Center has applied for $450 million in public funds from Albany to implement the merger. Despite the apparent hesitancy of the Wyckoff leadership to participate in the merger, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Medical Center, Dr. Richard Becker, says “This proposal will have a transformative impact on the health of Brooklyn’s residents, while creating a new, financially sustainable healthcare delivery model.” It is expected that the merged operations will allow each medical center to temporarily bill Medicare and private health insurance companies at higher reimbursement rates. This increase in revenue, along with expected lower costs due to consolidating operations would help the financial position of all the hospitals.
Some believe that Rodriguez’s preference for Wyckoff to maintain its independence notwithstanding, the merger will go through for all three facilities. The Wyckoff medical center is being investigated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for alleged financial improprieties. Some of the allegations are that recently fired former Wyckoff CEO, Rajiv Garg, using $33,000 of hospital funds to hire a limousine service to drive him around. Garg is also accused of improperly expensing some European travel and expensive dinners to the hospital.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center has itself recently come out of financial difficulties. The hospital, founded 166 years ago, came out of bankruptcy protection September 2007. Although it is aiming for some benefits that it might gain from this merger like increased quality and preventive medical care to reduce the need to emergency rooms visits of Brooklynians especially those with no health insurance.