One Brooklyn Health to slash more services as merger continues

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly New York Health Care newsletter, where we keep you posted on what’s coming up this week in health care news, and offer a look back at the important news from last week.

Beat Memo

Hospital consolidation has for decades been sweeping the country, often reducing access to care in rural areas and urban neighborhoods of color. New York City is no exception.

The trend was a driving force behind a new state law requiring health care organizations to submit independent health equity impact assessments of any projects that would substantially expand or reduce services.

Soon that law could face its first major test.

Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center is making preparations to close its emergency room and halt acute rehabilitation and outpatient dialysis services by this November.

The East Flatbush safety-net hospital, which predominantly serves low-income patients in a majority Black and brown neighborhood, has already been gutted as part of the state-subsidized merger that created the One Brooklyn Health system.

But the forthcoming closures run against previously approved plans for Kingsbrook under the broader consolidation effort, which said the hospital would continue operating a freestanding emergency room as it transforms into a hub for rehabilitation services and outpatient care.

That means Kingsbrook will have to file a certificate-of-need application and, most likely, a health equity impact assessment in its quest for state approval of the service cuts.

It has yet to do so, even though the hospital has already been laying the groundwork for the closures. Health care workers were briefing last month on the plans.

One Brooklyn Health CEO LaRay Brown said the system will save tens of millions of dollars by halting Kingsbrook’s little-used emergency, acute rehab and dialysis services — framing the moves as a matter of fiscal responsibility.

“We have to be responsible in identifying where there are opportunities for us to reduce our expenses and to reduce our dependency on the state,” Brown said in an interview.

But the New York State Nurses Association’s executive director, Pat Kane, lambasted the decision as violating “the spirit of the original plan that unions and elected officials agreed to years ago.”

Elected officials representing central Brooklyn have yet to publicly address the matter, even as many of them have made health equity a key part of their political platforms.


Hundreds of union employees at Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation started picketing Friday to protest management’s failure to make months of required payments to 1199 SEIU’s health benefits fund. The union said workers are on track to lose their health care benefits as of Aug. 25 as a result of the nonpayment.

The nursing home is the subject of a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Letitia James in December, which accused the owners of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid of over $22.6 million.

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What you may have missed

The New York State Nurses Association won instant salary bumps for about 8,000 members working for NYC Health + Hospitals and city agencies under a new contract deal announced last week.

The 5½-year agreement calls for all employees to receive an immediate $16,000 annual pay increase, a parity adjustment meant to put the nurses’ salaries on par with those of their private-sector counterparts. A second parity adjustment will add just over $5,500 to all employees’ annual salaries at the same time next year.

The deal also sets new staffing ratios for certain hospital units, such as wings for incarcerated patients.

Dr. Howard Zucker, the state’s health commissioner under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has been working as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s deputy director for global health since January. He resigned from the Department of Health in 2021, after revelations that the Cuomo administration manipulated Covid data to downplay the number of deaths in nursing homes.

Odds and Ends

NOW WE KNOW — Loss of taste and smell is no longer a reliable Covid symptom.

TODAY’S TIP — To manage jet lag, use light strategically.

STUDY THIS — Cancer patients diagnosed in 2020 were more likely to be at a later stage in the disease’s progression.

What We’re Reading

Report found ‘significant and pervasive’ diversity issues at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Buffalo News reports.

ProMED, an early warning system on disease outbreaks, appears near collapse, STAT reports.

Veterans see historic expansion of benefits for toxic exposure as new law nears anniversary, The Associated Press reports.

Via The Wall Street Journal:The tragedy of being a new mom in America.”


Via POLITICO’s Alice Miranda Ollstein: Two doctors — one Democrat and one Republican — face off over how to investigate the pandemic.

DEA says it will consider looser rules for virtual prescribing, Ben Leonard reports.

Via Daniel Han: Murphy wanted to allow birth control pills without a prescription. It’s running behind schedule.

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