Healthcare Workers, NYCPA Williams, Bklyn Borough President Reynoso, State Lawmakers & City Council Members Urge Gov. Hochul to Stand Up to Billionaire

September 28, 2023

Advocates Demand an Independent Review of One Brooklyn Health System & Vital Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, NY. Nurses, doctors, and other caregivers joined with community members, faith leaders, and elected officials earlier today to demand an independent review of One Brooklyn Health System (OBH) governance and the state’s progress toward Vital Brooklyn goals to improve health care after the sudden ouster of OBH CEO LaRay Brown.

The diverse group standing on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall included:

●     New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams
●     Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso
●     New York State Senator Jabari Brisport
●     New York State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud 
●     New York Assemblymember Monique Chandler-Waterman
●     New York Assemblymember Brian A. Cunningham
●     New York Assemblymember Latrice Walker 
●     New York Assemblymember Stefani L. Zinerman
●     New York City Council Member Crystal Hudson
●     New York City Council Member Farah Louis
●     New York City Council Member Darlene Mealy 
●     New York City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse
●     Reverend Herbert Daughtry

 “The board of One Brooklyn Health must be responsible and accountable to patients, the community, and workers. We demand that Governor Hochul ensure proper oversight, reform the board, and make real investments in safety-net institutions to ensure that all Brooklyn residents have access to the quality healthcare they deserve,” said George Gresham, 1199SEIU President.

Billionaire real estate investor and political donor Alexander Rovt, who is OBH’s board chairman, recently orchestrated Brown’s removal without any input from the community and labor partners involved in Brooklyn’s healthcare transformation. Rovt’s actions threaten to destabilize healthcare delivery in Brooklyn when accountable leadership and more resources are sorely needed. 

“One Brooklyn Health (OBH) was built on transparency and collaboration, yet the Board’s approach to LaRay Brown’s removal flies in the face of OBH’s foundational values,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “The healthcare workers who deliver on OBH’s vision of a healthy Brooklyn deserve transparency, accountability, and a say in who is at the system’s helm–as do the people the system serves. I stand with 1199SEIU, The New York State Nurses Association, The Committee of Interns and Residents, OBH staff, and community leaders in calling on the State to get involved in establishing transparency and accountability from top to bottom within OBH. Without intervention, OBH will not be able to deliver quality care to Brooklyn residents.”

“Healthcare is a human right. Our healthcare infrastructure should be run with community input and not controlled by the interests of the ultra-rich,” said State Senator Jabari Brisport.

“My colleagues and I have been meeting with key stakeholders about the circumstances surrounding One Brooklyn Health. We have the shared goal of making sure that patient care at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center is sustainable. We owe that to the communities of color that are served by these safety net hospitals,” said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-55). 

"My mother dedicated her life to providing for others as a healthcare worker, as did One Brooklyn Health CEO LaRay Brown,” said Assemblymember Brian A. Cunningham. “Under LaRay Brown’s leadership, One Brooklyn Health addressed systemic social determinants of healthcare as part of Central Brooklyn's vital safety-net hospital system. Her dedication and service to Brooklyn communities have certainly earned her due process, and I echo my elected colleagues' calls for thorough oversight by the State of New York."

"Healthcare isn't a privilege; it's a right. In Brooklyn, we've fought for years to ensure our safety-net hospitals are more than just a net—they're a lifeline. The board's unilateral actions betray not just healthcare workers, but every resident relying on these institutions. We're not just stakeholders; we're the foundation. Decisions about our healthcare can't be made in boardrooms without us. We've built a coalition that's strong, informed, and unyielding. We're not just at the table; we own the table. And  we won't back down until healthcare is accessible and accountable, right in our own neighborhoods," said Assemblymember Stefani L. Zinerman

“I am urging Governor Hochul to launch an independent review of the One Brooklyn Health System and Vital Brooklyn. This review will allow us to see any past wrongdoing and hold the parties accountable; but it will also serve as a map for the future of healthcare access in central Brooklyn,” said Council Member Rita Joseph.

“Historically, we’ve witnessed hospital consolidation reduce access to much needed treatment in communities of color across the country, and New York City is no exception.  One Brooklyn Health (OBH)'s board of directors failed to be good stewards and protect the integrity of our safety net hospitals—Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and the BIPOC patients that utilize these institutions for quality healthcare. It is unconscionable for the OBH board to consider actions that would damage a healthcare system that Brooklyn residents rely on, placing murky profits before patients. New York State must maintain its commitment to the preservation of our community hospitals and disburse the $600 million allocated to OBH to safeguard the system's survival. OBH is the result of a commitment, and New York State is obligated to comply; anything less is criminal,” said Council Member Farah Louis.

"The action by the Board of Trustees threatens to destabilize healthcare delivery in Brooklyn when we need accountable leadership like CEO LaRay Brown.  We need more resources, not disruptive power-grabs. I join 1199 members, and community residents and leaders to demand that our Governor Hochul step-in to reverse this decision," said Council Member Darlene Mealy.

"The foundational principles of One Brooklyn Health have always been transparency and a collective commitment to the health and wellness of our Brooklyn residents. The sudden ousting of Ms. LaRay Brown without community and labor input is concerning. It's essential that our healthcare institutions remain steadfast in their mission, with leadership decisions made in the best interests of the community. Our residents, healthcare workers, and everyone involved with OBH deserve open communication, and a consistent, effective approach to healthcare delivery. I stand alongside my colleagues, the healthcare workers, and our community in urging a reevaluation of recent decisions and advocating for the transparency and stability our Brooklyn community needs and deserves," said  Council Member Mercedes Narcisse.

“I am urging Governor Hochul to launch an independent review of the One Brooklyn Health System and Vital Brooklyn. This review will allow us to see any past wrongdoing and hold the parties accountable; but it will also serve as a map for the future of healthcare access in central Brooklyn,” said Council Member Rita Joseph.

"Healthcare workers and the community have worked for years to ensure our safety net hospitals in Central Brooklyn remain open for care. NYSNA nurses need to know that One Brooklyn Health leadership is committed to preserving access to essential healthcare services. It’s time to put patients over profits, and bring labor and community back to the table so we can secure the quality care that our patients deserve." NYSNA Director at Large Ari Moma, RN, of Interfaith Medical Center

“As doctors we work tirelessly everyday to provide the best possible care to every patient that comes through the doors of our OBH hospitals. Decisions about our hospitals and our vital resources should not be made without full transparency and input from the community and the frontline healthcare workers that keep our hospitals running. The communities that OBH serves have been underfunded and under-resourced for far too long, we demand transparency, fairness and vital funding now,” said Dr Colleen Achong, CIRSEIU New York Regional Vice President. 

OBH emerged after a commitment from New York state’s elected leaders to transform Brooklyn health care, address the social determinants of health and invest in the full range of healthcare needs. 

The healthcare workers and elected officials want Governor Kathy Hochul to demonstrate her commitment to the same goals by:

● Working with the Charities Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s office to restructure the OBH Board, ensuring full community representation and adherence to proper governance procedures.

● Supporting an independent review of the state’s progress towards Vital Brooklyn goals, including OBH’ financial position.

● Conducting a comprehensive assessment of the current and potential Executive leadership team at OBH to ensure the best possible outcomes for the organization.

● Expediting the implementation of existing investments in OBH and the communities, including building the medical village at the Kingsbrook campus and fully funding the Rutland Nursing Home.

● Proposing new Executive Budget investments which address Medicaid underfunding and the impact of funding policies which keep safety net institutions cash-poor and in constant crisis. These must end structural inequities and build long-term sustainability to serve vulnerable communities.

● Ensuring that Vital Brooklyn Housing Initiatives on OBH land fully benefit the community by directing any proceeds to reinvestment in the hospital system and  ensuring that Central Brooklyn residents–and especially healthcare workers–have affordable access to the apartments built on hospital property.

OBH operates Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center–safety net hospitals that largely serve neighborhoods of color in central and eastern Brooklyn.

Vital Brooklyn is an ongoing community development program for underserved neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn that offers an holistic approach that focuses on eight integrated areas of improvement: open space and recreation; healthy food; education; economic empowerment; community-based violence prevention; community-based health care; affordable housing; and resiliency.