Save SUNY Downstate's Hospital!
ACTION TYPE: Email State Legislators
Save union jobs and quality health care. Save SUNY Downstate!
I am writing to express my deep concerns regarding SUNY's plan to make drastic changes in the structure and operation of the public teaching hospital at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University.
SUNY's plan would relegate this safety net hospital to a wing in Kings County Hospital Center. In addition, other health care services currently performed by Downstate would be farmed out to other neighboring hospitals.
The implementation of this plan will unequivocally result in the closure of SUNY Downstate. If there is no building, there is no hospital.
SUNY is calling its vision for Downstate a transformation. Nothing could be further from the truth. This ill-conceived plan will undermine the Central Brooklyn hospital's central mission and harm the Brooklyn communities it serves.
As a public teaching hospital, Downstate treats all patients who walk through its doors, including patients without insurance or who are unable to pay for care, making it a crucial resource to Brooklyn residents.
Our hospital predominantly serves people of color, low income, uninsured, underinsured, undocumented and at-risk individuals who have limited access to affordable health care. These patients are more prone to suffer from serious disease and face higher morbidity rates than other patients across our city and state.
In fact, the vast majority of Downstate's patients—nearly 90 percent—are on Medicaid, are underinsured or have no health insurance. Moreover, out of 143 hospitals in New York state, Downstate ranks first for Medicaid revenue as a share of net patient revenue.
I was dismayed to learn that Downstate has been left out of the state's plan to send up to $6 billion in federal Section 1115 waiver funding to bail out cash-strapped hospitals. This includes $2.2 billion for hospitals in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Westchester counties. SUNY Downstate, a public hospital, is not getting a dollar of this funding.
It is incumbent upon the state to ensure that it remains fiscally viable and able to provide the health care services that Central Brooklyn residents deserve and depend on. SUNY's radical plan is the antithesis of this important goal. New York state is in the best position to provide health care to Central Brooklyn's vulnerable population through its own hospital, SUNY Downstate. It should not abandon this obligation.
Instead of closing Downstate, let us reimagine our hospital as a viable, vital health care center that serves the unique needs of Brooklyn and New York City. To accomplish that, the state must provide a capital investment to upgrade the facility for it to provide the specialized health care services the Brooklyn community needs and deserves. It will also require short-term state operating aid to enable the hospital to continue operating while it goes through its physical transformation.
I urge you to work with your colleagues in the Legislature and all stakeholders to stop SUNY's closure plan and instead work to develop a sustainability plan for Downstate.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. I would greatly appreciate a response to this letter.
(c) 2024 NYSUT
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