Boro Park is blessed with dozens of organizations dedicated to caring for families during health crises. From home-cooked meals to Hatzalah two minutes away in the middle of the night, residents know they can count on their community’s thousands of volunteers to be ready to help. I am proud to be the founder of Renewal Organization, which has grown to an extensive medical organization dedicated to making a positive change in the lives of people who desperately need a life saving kidney transplant in order to stay alive. Renewal was built by dedicated members of the community who learned how to navigate the healthcare system, all for the sake of saving a life. So why can’t our local hospital’s executives manage basic competence?
Maimonides Medical Center is failing. We have all heard heartbreaking stories of elderly patients trapped in sweltering rooms, worried mothers having their children’s dangerous symptoms dismissed, and pregnant women waiting for hours in the triage area because there are no prepared rooms.
As a reflection of the public’s frustration, I helped begin a campaign, Save Maimonides, to channel the community’s concerns into action. We have gathered 30,000 signatures from communities across Brooklyn demanding the Department of Health act to bring competent leadership to Maimonides Medical Center. 30,000 signatures is twice the amount needed to run for Governor of New York. Over the past couple of years, the hospital has repeatedly wrongfully claimed a handful of real estate developers run our campaign in order to take over the location, but 30,000 signatures make it clear that we are reflecting the widespread concerns of Brooklyn residents. The hospital’s leadership is inexperienced and incompetent and is making false claims about our campaign to distract from the reality of their mismanagement.
The hospital would also claim it’s struggling because it’s a social safety net hospital, but we all know Maimonides is one of the most charitable zip codes in Brooklyn in an area with many private insurance clients. The hospital has been driving away locals with private insurance, who can afford to travel to Manhattan to receive higher quality care. And to add insult to injury, this argument of Maimonides seems to suggest people who rely on Medicare and Medicaid don’t deserve high quality healthcare.
Maimonides has also said its financial struggle is the result of the pandemic–but then why in 2021 did they buy the naming rights of a minor league baseball stadium instead of hiring more nurses? What benefit does an elderly patient have that a team has the hospital’s name when there’s no nurse to answer her ringing the bell for more than 6 hours?
Maimonides ranked last in the New York Department of Health’s list of reported patient satisfaction. According to the U.S. News & World Report rankings, Maimonides ranked 29th out of 29 hospitals in New York that met U.S. News standards and ranked 31 out of 31 hospitals in the New York, New York metropolitan area. The New York State Department of Health ranked Maimonides the 148th hospital out of 148 for patient satisfaction. Recently, like the previous four years, the Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit watchdog organization, gave Maimonides Hospital a D rating in hospital safety. Last year, the hospital lost more than $145 million while CEO Kenneth Gibbs’ compensation rose to more than $3 million.
Year after year the hospital has faced massive losses, and Maimonides leadership has turned to the government to use our tax dollars to bail out their failed management. Don’t we all think that it is time to use our tax money to hire competent management to serve our community with quality health care?
To restore the hospital to its former sterling quality, we have delivered thousands of petitions to the New York State Department of Health, calling on it to immediately install experienced, capable leadership to improve Maimonides Medical Center’s operations and save it from financial collapse. The DOH can appoint a temporary facility operator to take over the operations of a hospital under Public Health Law (PHL) section 2806-a, so long as it meets three conditions. The hospital must be “experiencing serious financial instability”, when “conditions within the facility that seriously endanger the life, health or safety of residents or patients”, and “when there has been an improper delegation of management authority by the governing authority” of the hospital. Maimonides meets all of these criterias.
We believe that Maimonides would be best served if it was taken over by Northwell Health, which could bring in medical experts and experienced leaders to restore the hospital and stabilize its precarious financial situation. The hospital misleadingly claims Save Maimonides is motivated by our own financial interests, but our financial interest is in the hospital not collapsing into bankruptcy due to Gibbs and other leaderships’ mismanagement. Northwell is a successful healthcare company worth hundreds of billions of dollars; it previously took over a financially troubled Lenox Hill in 2010, and invested billions in modernizing and expanding the historical Manhattan hospital. Northwell has the funds, the resources, and the experience to invest in Maimonides to save the hospital, but only if the deal goes through.
Our campaign, Save Maimonides, represents the urgent medical needs of the people of Boro Park. We desperately want our local hospital to be the best it can be– no family should have to drive an hour to Manhattan in desperate need of competent medical care. Northwell has successfully turned around other failing hospitals; we hope the state will intervene to force Maimonides to sign a deal with Northwell to save the hospital. Our volunteer organizations know those suffering during a health crisis need as much help and compassion as possible–we deserve to expect that of the professionals.
Save Maimonides will not stop its efforts to bring a great solution to the broken hospital by all means possible. The community has spoken and until there’s change we are here to stay.
Mendy Reiner is the Founder and Chairman of Renewal and Co-Chairman of Save Maimonides.
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.
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