Scores of community leaders in southern Brooklyn are rallying around beleaguered Maimonides hospital as it bats back complaints of declining patient care, plummeting finances, fat executive compensation and mismanagement.
The 25 leaders co-signed a letter supporting Maimonides’ embattled leadership and accusing critics — who’ve argued dramatic changes are needed to save Brooklyn’s largest privately run hospital — of waging an attack campaign that’s undermining the medical facility.
“Maimonides is not perfect – no hospital is – but its leadership is eager to listen and addresses issues when raised,” the letter obtained by The Post said.
It points out the COVID-19 pandemic has had “a devastating impact on our communities and created major challenges throughout society. All hospitals have faced enormous pressure on staffing and resources.”
The Maimonides supporters also lament what’s become a bitter feud over the hospital’s future.
“It is disheartening to see these global challenges used as a pretext for a divisive, misleading, harmful series of attacks on the hospital and its workforce – 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 stated.
“As community leaders, we stand with Maimonides and its hardworking team of clinicians, staff, and administrators. We would encourage everyone to learn the facts about Maimonides and to make their voices heard in support of the hospital. Maimonides is a pillar of Brooklyn life which we can all feel proud to have in our backyard.”
The letter is co-signed by leaders of diverse groups including Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, vicar of development for the Brooklyn Catholic Diocese, the Federation of Italian-American Organizations of Brooklyn, United Senior Citizens of Sunset Park, the Bangladeshi-American Society, Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, 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 top tier clinical outcomes we have been able to achieve for communities that have suffered from significant historic health disparities. Working closely and constructively with community partners, we are together making a significant difference and are grateful for their partnership and support,” Maimonides said in the statement.
The letter is the hospital’s latest counter-offensive aimed at critics.
But conspicuously missing are any signatories representing Borough Park’s Orthodox Jewish community, a key neighborhood served by Maimonides. Much of the criticism has been lodged by Borough Park activists and patients.
The Post recently revealed Maimonides reported a $145 million loss last year and defaulted on some of its debt obligations. But the hospital maintained a pot of $1.8 billion in Medicaid reimbursement included in this year’s state budget will help stabilize its finances.
The battle took another twist in August when one of those lawmakers, state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), labeled one of the groups pushing for a management overhaul — Save Maimonides — as “not kosher.”
“The movement is not kosher. It’s absolutely a smear campaign,” said Felder, whose district includes heavily Orthodox Jewish Borough Park, where Maimonides is a major employer.
Allies of the hospital’s current management have also accused critics of trying to take over the hospital.
Maimonides is a” safety net” hospital — meaning many of its patients rely on public health insurance that pays far less than private insurance for procedures and that the hospital runs on narrow margins. About half its patients are on Medicaid, the public health insurance for the needy, 32% are on Medicare and just 14% have private/commercial insurance.
Nearly half of the residents in its coverage area are foreign born and nearly half are non-white. Nearly a third speak a primary language other than English. Nearly a third of its patients are Jewish.
The major critics group, the Save Maimonides Coalition, suggested the pro-hospital letter smacked of desperation and some of the groups that signed had received donations from the hospital.
“Maimonides is ranked the worst hospital in New York in part because they are no longer paying for enough nurses per shift, and we sympathize with good people and good groups that took donations from Ken Gibbs in good faith and are now being used to prop up failing leadership delivering horrible care that’s pushed the hospital to the edge of bankruptcy,” said Mendy Reiner, co-chair of the Save Maimonides coalition.
Maimonides’ charitable tax-exempt status filed with the IRS and other public records show at least four of the groups that co-signed the letter received funding from Maimonides. The Arab American Association 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 Maimonides’s board secretary, received $9,000 in 2018; and the Chinese American Planning Council, up to $5,000.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Monsignor Gigantiello’s parish in the Brooklyn Diocese, got $11,000 from Maimonides in 2019.
Maimonides is one of the city’s last remaining stand-alone major community hospitals — not owned or tightly integrated into a major system, like NYU-Langone or Columbia-Presbyterian. That means it alone carries the costs of back office operations like billing and running its computer and records systems.