Dozens of South Brooklyn community leaders rally around the embattled Maimonides Hospital as it pushes back against complaints about declining patient care, plummeting finances, fat executive pay and poor management.
The 25 leaders co-signed a letter backing Maimonides’ beleaguered leadership and accusing critics – who have argued dramatic changes are needed to save Brooklyn’s largest private hospital – of waging an attack campaign that undermines the medical facility .
“Maimonides isn’t perfect – no hospital is – but its management is keen to listen and resolve issues as they arise,” reads the letter obtained by The Post.
He points out that the COVID-19 pandemic has had “a devastating impact on our communities and created major challenges throughout society. All hospitals have faced tremendous pressure on staff and resources.
Maimonides’ supporters also lament what has become a bitter dispute over the hospital’s future.
“It is heartbreaking to see these global challenges used as a pretext for a series of divisive, misleading and damaging attacks on the hospital and its staff – especially when the hospital has gone above and beyond to get us through the pandemic, visiting community centers and places of worship to provide vaccinations, support and information,” the letter said.
“As community leaders, we support Maimonides and her hard-working team of clinicians, staff and administrators. We encourage everyone to know the facts about Maimonides and raise their voices for the hospital. Maimonides is a mainstay of Brooklyn life that we can all be proud to have in our backyard.
The letter is co-signed by the leaders of various groups, including Bishop Jamie Gigantiello, vicar of development for the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn, United Senior Citizens of Sunset Park, the Bangladeshi-American Society, the Society Islamic. of Bay Ridge, the Chinese American Planning Council, the Arab American Association of NY, the Arthur Ashe Institution for Urban Health, among others.
“As a destination center for advanced care and a safety net hospital serving diverse neighborhoods with high concentrations of Medicaid patients, we are incredibly proud of the high-level clinical outcomes we have been able to achieve for communities that have suffered from significant historical disparities in health. By working closely and constructively with community partners, together we are making a meaningful difference and we are grateful for their partnership and support,” Maimonides said in the statement.
The letter is the hospital’s latest counterattack aimed at critics.
But it is clearly missing signatories representing the Orthodox Jewish community in Borough Park, a key neighborhood served by Maimonides. Much of the criticism has been filed by Borough Park activists and patients.
The Post recently revealed that Maimonides reported a loss of $145 million last year and defaulted on some of his debts. But the hospital maintained a pot of $1.8 billion in Medicaid reimbursement included in this year’s state budget to help stabilize its finances.
Care complaints emerged in July when five state lawmakers signed a letter calling for hearings into hospital operations, citing long wait times for care and overstretched staff.
The battle took another turn in August when one of those lawmakers, Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), called one of the groups calling for a management overhaul — Save Maimonides — “unkosher.”
“The movement is not kosher. This is absolutely a smear campaign,” said Felder, whose district includes a heavily Orthodox Jewish Borough Park, where Maimonides is a major employer.
Allies of the hospital’s current management have also accused the critics of trying to take over the hospital.
Maimonides is a “safety net” hospital – meaning many of its patients rely on public health insurance which pays far less than private insurance for procedures and the hospital operates on narrow margins. About half of his patients are on Medicaid, public health insurance for the needy, 32% are on Medicare, and only 14% have private/commercial insurance.
Nearly half of the residents in its coverage area were foreign-born and almost half are non-white. Almost a third speak a main language other than English. Nearly a third of his patients are Jewish.
The main critics group, the Save Maimonides Coalition, suggested that the pro-hospital letter smacks of desperation and that some of the groups that signed had received donations from the hospital.
“Maimonides is rated the worst hospital in New York in part because they no longer pay enough nurses per shift, and we sympathize with good people and good groups who accepted Ken Gibbs donations in good faith. and are now being used to support failing leadership providing horrific care that has pushed the hospital to the brink of bankruptcy,” said Mendy Reiner, Co-Chair of the Save Maimonides Coalition.
Maimonides’ tax-exempt status filed with the IRS and other public records show that at least four of the groups that co-signed the letter received funding from Maimonides. The Arab American Association has received $30,000 since 2017; the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health got $10,000; The Federation of Italian American Organizations, whose current vice president, Frank Naccarato, is the secretary of Maimonides’ board of directors, received $9,000 in 2018; and the Chinese American Planning Council, up to $5,000.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the parish of Bishop Gigantiello in the Diocese of Brooklyn, received $11,000 from Maimonides in 2019.
Maimonides is one of the last large free-standing community hospitals in the city — not owned or tightly integrated with a major system, like NYU-Langone or Columbia-Presbyterian. This means that it alone bears the costs of back-office operations such as billing and the operation of its IT and registration systems.