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Reminder: Victory Hospital still open

If you get sick or discover that you need surgery, don’t hesitate to visit Victory Memorial Hospital for treatment. That’s the message Bill Guarinello, new acting chair of the embattled Dyker Heights hospital’s board of trustees, delivered to Community Board 11 last week. “We are working on a plan to keep it viable,” Guarinello, who’s also chair of Community Board 11, assured neighbors. “But if you don’t use the facility, it will go away tomorrow.” The medical center located at 699 92nd Street has been in danger of closing ever since the state’s Commission on Health Care Facilities for the 21st Century recommended that Victory Memorial should close and be replaced with a diagnostic treatment center or a nursing home. Victory Memorial is one of five city hospitals the state commission has either suggested should be closed or consolidated. New York Methodist Hospital, located at 506 Sixth Street and New York Community Hospital, located at 2525 Kings Highway, have been asked to merge. Money woes have made Victory Memorial – the hospital filed for bankruptcy last November – an attractive target for state bean-counters under the leadership of former Republican Governor George Pataki. But Guarinello said that a revitalized board of trustees is endeavoring to change that assessment. “We’re working on a plan to keep the hospital viable,” Guarinello said. “We are going to do the best we can to get it out of bankruptcy.” According to Guarinello, Victory Memorial could benefit from a partnership with Maimonides Medical Center. The medical center has hired a team of strategic planners on Victory’s behalf in an effort to help the hospital keep its doors open. Guarinello said he expects a comprehensive plan to be hammered out shortly. All decisions must first be cleared through a bankruptcy court. “We put time constraints on ourselves, and would like to have a firm plan by next month,” Guarinello said. In addition to its financial challenges, the board of trustees chairman suggested that some of the Victory Memorial’s problems stem from perceptions within the community that care at hospital has somehow been lacking as a result. “When you start to hear it wasn’t run well, it’s like a groundswell,” the Guarinello said. Even if Victory is successful in keeping its doors open, Guarinello said that the hospital will not look the same to the community. “It’s probably not going to be saved under Victory’s banner,” Guarinello said. “It’s certainly not going to be the 254-bed facility it is now.” Whatever form the hospital may ultimately take, Guarinello said that the board of trustees hopes to maintain emergency room facilities and at least some number of acute care beds. One thing the board is fighting hard to prevent is losing the hospital altogether and seeing the property become just another high-priced condominium project. “We want to make sure it’s health care related,” Guarinello said. “This board knows what has to be done to bring us back to break even. I think we’ve taken the bull by the horns.” Advocates for Victory Memorial continue, meanwhile, to hope that a pending case in the Bronx where a Supreme Court judge issued a restraining order temporarily preventing the state from shutting down Westchester Square Medical Center, will bode well for their ongoing efforts here in Brooklyn. Local elected officials have also rallied around Victory Memorial Hospital.

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