De Blasio suit blocks Brooklyn hospital closure

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio,

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, center, greets supporters after announcing that he is running for mayor on Sunday in Brooklyn. Bill de Blasio made the announcement on the sidewalk in front of his Park Slope house. (Jan. 27, 2013). (Credit: Charles Eckert)

A Brooklyn hospital closure slated for Monday will be postponed for at least 16 days, a bankruptcy judge ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by New York City public advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio.

Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which filed for bankruptcy protection in December, still faces the prospect of laying off its 1,500 employees and closing its doors to patients.

The hospital board and state officials must come up with a long-term restructuring plan, de Blasio said.

"We now have more time to get this right," de Blasio said at a news conference in Downtown Brooklyn, surrounded by several members of the 1199 SEIU health care workers union, which endorsed him for mayor in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary. "You can't have health care if health care is not provided locally."

His supporters at the event chanted, "Interfaith is alive."

Fighting hospital closures has been a key plank of de Blasio's campaign platform. The Democrat was arrested in early July and charged with disorderly conduct at a rally protesting the closure of another Brooklyn hospital, Cobble Hill's Long Island College Hospital.

De Blasio had argued that the state health department approved Interfaith's plan to shutter its doors while disregarding a required 90-day review period. The public advocate's office said he is open to future legal action.

He has asked state officials to put in place a Brooklyn Health Authority, which would use federal and state cash to bail out ailing hospitals and have the power to fire hospital administrators.

De Blasio said Interfaith's closure would leave 175,000 Brooklyn residents without a local emergency room.

In the Republican primary contest, Gristedes supermarket owner John Catsimatidis released a TV ad slamming opponent and former MTA chairman Joe Lhota for his criticism in May of Port Authority police officers as "mall cops." Lhota has apologized for the comment.

In the spot, retired Port Authority Police Inspector James Kassimatis says 37 of his colleagues died in the 9/11 terror attacks and he himself was in Tower No. 1. "Mr. Lhota, I'm no mall cop," he says. "Got it?"

Lhota spokeswoman Jessica Proud Monday responded that it is "unfortunate" that Catsimatidis is using negative attacks after pledging to run a positive campaign. "It's clear that New Yorkers are not responding to his candidacy and we have full faith they will also reject his mudslinging," she said in a statement.

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