• Mon. May 27th, 2024

SUNY Downstate Hospital, threatened in budget talks, will remain open

SUNY Downstate Hospital, threatened in budget talks, will remain open

New York State will not shutter a state-run central Brooklyn teaching hospital that had landed on the chopping block under a state budget draft, Gov. Hochul’s office said Friday.

“It is not closing its doors in the near-term,” Kathryn Garcia, New York’s director of state operations, told reporters in Manhattan.

The preservation of the medical center, University Hospital at Downstate, came after strong community pushback to a blueprint by the Hochul administration that could have closed the health care center and moved some of its services into a city-run hospital across the street.

More than 70% of residents who live near the hospital opposed efforts to close it and move its services, according to a poll released last month by labor interests lined up against the plan.

In late February, the Rev. Al Sharpton led a hundreds-strong rally in opposition to the planned closure. And lawmakers responded to the Hochul administration proposal with a blueprint of their own to safeguard the hospital.

The 342-bed medical center is nestled in the predominantly Black neighborhood of East Flatbush.

The area suffers from a shortage of health care options. A January state Health Department analysis reported that hospital quality is “generally low across Brooklyn and is lowest in communities with a large proportion of Black residents.”

The Downstate Hospital houses the lone kidney transplant program in Brooklyn and one of two high-level perinatal care centers in the borough, according to the office of the local state senator, Zellnor Myrie. 

Legislative text folded into the state budget creates a community advisory board for the “modernization and revitalization” of the hospital. It also provides for $100 million to cover operating expenses, and $300 million for the hospital’s capital needs, according to Hochul’s office.

Lawmakers were poised to pass the bill text Friday afternoon.

“It’s a huge win for the community,” said Brian Cunningham, the local assemblyman.

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