Chapter 9

Reinventing Interfaith

In June 2014, a judge approved Interfaith’s restructuring plan and resolved its bankruptcy status. The federal HHS Medicaid waiver allowed some federal funds to be directed toward Interfaith.69 In addition to its financial restructuring, the bankruptcy plan addressed the lack of coordination of care: Interfaith’s board agreed to enter into partnerships with other Brooklyn hospitals and into state-funded programs designed to reduce avoidable hospitalizations.


What readers will learn:

  1. The role of the Coalition in selecting a new Interfaith CEO

  2. The role of the new Interfaith CEO in efforts  to transform the hospital.

  3. The community’s vision for a transformed Interfaith.

Victory in the fight to save Interfaith was now an extraordinary opportunity to reinvent it. With the MIT report in hand, community and union leaders began to articulate the need to improve their own health by addressing SDOH. DSRIP funding created the possibility and resources to enable innovation. Coalition leaders also hoped to demonstrate the agency of a low-income black community in improving its health by creating their own initiatives to improve health.   As it happened, the overarching demand for fiscal prudence from the federal and state government worked to the benefit of community activists who now had the makings of a specific, credible, actionable plan.

A New CEO for Interfaith’s Next Chapter

After more than 20 years of mismanagement by outside consultants, Interfaith needed new leadership that fully understood and was connected to the community the hospital served. Coalition members insisted on a role in the selection of Interfaith’s new CEO. In keeping with the MIT recommendations, Coalition Co-Chair, Bruce Richard, recalled, “We got a commitment from the state that the Interfaith Coalition would be able to provide recommendations and have a meaningful voice in this process. We felt the board was slow to see the value of operating along the lines of the shared vision that had been established, and sought a more business-as-usual, traditional board."71

The Coalition persisted, and threw its weight behind LaRay Brown, a 30-year veteran with the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (NYC HHC),72 the city’s public hospital and health system. In February 2016, Brown was selected to lead Interfaith’s transformation. She became the first African-American woman president of a private hospital in New York State, and only one of a handful of women hospital CEOs in New York City.73

LaRay Brown

Crain’s New York Business reported: “LaRay Brown, [is] an exceptionally well-respected hospital executive with strong ties to city and state government.” From the outset, Brown committed to a participatory strategic planning process with community and labor leaders to develop “a proactive agenda for a progressive transformation of Interfaith.”74  In an address to the community in her first month, she said:

“We need to make sure that this community sees us as part of it. As strength of it. And as it is. So it’s not just about me and my face. It’s about all of the people who work in this organization. And it’s about all the folks who will work in this organization ...”75

In close alignment with the Coalition, Brown also brought along a vision of Interfaith as a driver of community health and economic well-being:

"Someone mentioned about the need for this facility, . . . and others that are of a community to support a community. And not just providing the health care but the economic strength, the economic health of the community. And I said . . . do you have a list of the MWBEs [Minority/Women-owned Business Enterprises]? . . . I asked some of my colleagues to call the elected official’s offices. I also called myself. And . . .  the responses I got when I called . . . ‘this is the first time anybody has ever called and asked us for this.’”76

With passage of the ACA and DSRIP, Brooklyn hospitals and community leaders looked to transform the coordination of clinical care. At the same time, they seized the opportunity to strengthen relationships with the communities in which the hospitals were located. With its new visionary CEO, Interfaith, and the Coalition, joining forces with CCB made it possible to build toward a shared vision of strengthening  community health and wealth. Together they created  a “proactive agenda for the transformation of Interfaith.”77 And, as the following chapters describe, it enabled new structures and agreements for ensuring that agenda came to fruition.

On March 11, 2016, Interfaith Medical Center hosted the Coalition’s International Women’s Day where LaRay Brown, the newly appointed President of Interfaith Medical Center was honored. To watch the entire video click here.

LaRay Brown’s appointment is widely seen as one of the Coalition’s most important victories. It unleashed the potential for a meaningful alignment of the community’s vision for Interfaith with the sorely needed institutional redesign mandated by DSRIP.  The table below highlights the changes envisioned by the community.

Chapter 9 Questions

  1. How did Coalition leaders use the MIT Report to influence plans to reinvent Interfaith?

  2. In what ways did the Coalition shape the process of selecting the new Interfaith CEO?

  3. Who is LaRay Brown and why was her selection important to the transformation process?

  4. Why did LaRay Brown focus on Interfaith’s economic activity in the community?

  5. Name three components of the Agenda For Progressive Transformation of Interfaith and explain their significance.

1. An Epidemic of Hospital Closures
2. Crisis at Interfaith
3. Time to Mobilize: Forming the Coalition to Save Interfaith
4. Protest and Resolution
5. Medicaid Reform
6. Research-Based Action
7. Participatory Action Research as a Tool for Change
8. Healthcare System Reform: Cross-Sector Collaboration
9. Reinventing Interfaith
10. Focus on Health Equity
11. Creating Healthier Communities: Leveraging Community Assets
12. Community Planning for Healthier Communities
13. Making Health a Shared Value: Building Civic Infrastructure
14. Building a Culture of Health: Outcomes
15. Planning for the Future
16. Sustaining Transformation in the Face of Challenge
About the Report