State closes SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn

The state plans to close SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn due to ongoing financial problems and a deteriorating building.

“They're worried about where they're going next,” said Dr. Melvin Mahoney, who has been with this company for fifty years.

But now he and his longtime patients face an uncertain future.


What you need to know

  • SUNY Chancellor John King said there will be no loss of care if and when the 342-certified bed hospital closes
  • Many of Downstate's inpatient services will move across the street into a wing of Kings County Hospital, a public and city-operated space
  • The hospital is part of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, a major medical school and research institution. It also has the only kidney transplant program in the municipality
  • A spokesperson said the hospital will try to limit staff cuts and hopes to have a more detailed plan by the end of March.

“We've faced a lot of setbacks in terms of limited resources, limited equipment and things like that, which other hospitals don't have. But we were able to provide something that they didn't have and this is something from the heart that we gave to our patients here,” Mahoney said.

Two weeks ago, New York State notified staff at University Hospital of its plan to downsize or even close the city's only state hospital.

“We have a $100 million deficit at SUNY Downstate and we will run out of cash this summer and the building is in disrepair and at risk of catastrophic failure,” said SUNY Chancellor John King.

He assures patients that there will be no loss of care if and when the 342-bed hospital closes.

Instead, many of Downstate's inpatient services will move across the street to a wing of Kings County Hospital, which is public and city-run.

“We will create a SUNY Downstate wing of Kings County. Same doctors, same staff, still part of SUNY,” King said.

The new wing will have about half as many beds: 150. Longtime employees of SUNY Downstate said they are concerned about their patients, many of whom are on Medicaid and Medicare, who have become accustomed to this hospital and its staff.

“I know the community depends on us. They need us. And I'm sure they don't want us to close,” said Michele Adams, a longtime nurse at SUNY Downstate.

The hospital is part of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, a major medical school and research institution. It also has the only kidney transplant program in the municipality.

Health professionals believe there is still a need for this hospital in downtown Brooklyn.

“Downstate has produced more physicians practicing in Brooklyn and New York, more than any other medical academic center. That's big. And they can do that because this hospital is connected to it,” said Kino Williams, a senior staffer at the hospital.

In a statement, a spokesperson for SUNY Downstate said, “We also want to ensure that essential services like our kidney transplant program, the only program in Brooklyn, remain available to the community during and after the transformation process.”

A spokesperson also said the hospital will try to limit staff cuts and hopes to have a more detailed plan by the end of March.

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