SUNY Announces Engagement and Visioning Process for $300 Million Capital Commitment to Building SUNY Downstate’s Future

February 7, 2024

Success of Health Sciences University is Vital to Preparing Excellent Diverse Healthcare Professionals for New York City and State

Maintaining and Expanding Outpatient Services, Enhancing the Medical Student Experience, and Building Brooklyn Institute for Health Equity to be Central to State Capital Investment

Brooklyn, N.Y. – The State University of New York today announced that it will launch a community-driven visioning process to shape its proposed $300 million capital investment to build a stronger SUNY Downstate. SUNY will engage in a robust engagement process including community surveys and five themed focus groups and stakeholder sessions in February and March. In mid-March, SUNY will publish a report detailing findings and recommendations.

After extensive analysis of community health needs, hospital usage in the Downstate service area, the perilous condition of the Downstate building, and historical and current patterns in Downstate's capacity, SUNY and the Executive Chamber have established a set of principles to guide the path forward. The community survey and focus groups will engage Downstate students, alumni, faculty, staff, and patients; Central Brooklyn residents; healthcare advocates; community-based organizations; and faith leaders. The process will begin with a needs assessment to better understand stakeholders' perspective on the current state of affairs at SUNY Downstate's health sciences university and teaching hospital, followed by a visioning process to ensure that community-sourced ideas inform SUNY's plan for a stronger Downstate at all levels.

The stakeholder workshops and focus groups will engage Downstate personnel and community members on their concerns and aspirations surrounding a variety of topics, including the following themes:

Needs Assessment

  • Tackling Health Disparities in Central Brooklyn – assessing the practical impact of systemic health inequities on Downstate's surrounding neighborhoods
  • Training the Healthcare Workforce of Tomorrow – engaging students, faculty, and staff on the academic experience at Downstate and generating ideas to modernize education, training, and research capabilities
  • Building a Secure Future for Downstate Staff – hearing and addressing workforce concerns about how Downstate's future will affect them

Visioning Process

  • Investing in an Affordable, Accessible Community – envisioning a future for the Downstate hospital site that meets the holistic needs of its Brooklyn neighborhood
  • Envisioning a Stronger Downstate for All of Us – developing recommendations for Downstate's academic and healthcare future driven by community input

While SUNY Downstate continues to address systemic health disparities in Brooklyn and beyond, the hospital is in danger of failing after years of financial instability and a facility in disrepair. Healthcare facilities across the country are also seeing more care being delivered outside of the hospital and Downstate, which experiences lower bed utilization rates and massive budget deficits, is no exception.

Additionally, the Department of Health recently released a study on healthcare inequities in Brooklyn, highlighting the impact of race and ethnicity, foreign-born status, and socioeconomic status on health disparities in the borough. The report underscores the urgent need for a bold plan to stabilize and strengthen Downstate so it can pursue its essential mission for generations to come.

"Downstate is a gem of the SUNY system, and this historic investment will put us on track to better serve our students and community," SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said. "The status quo puts our community including our staff and patients at catastrophic risk, and we cannot allow that to continue. We are committed to working in partnership with the community and all stakeholders to build a strong future for Downstate."

"This is a new chapter for Downstate, one filled with challenges and opportunities," SUNY Downstate President Dr. Wayne J. Riley said. "Our community's input in shaping the transformation process will help us build a sustainable, vibrant future for this essential institution."

Working with community partners and stakeholders, SUNY intends to put forward a bold plan to secure a stronger, more stable future for Downstate's students, staff, and faculty while enhancing the quality and quantity of healthcare services available to Brooklyn residents. The capital investment, which will be informed by stakeholder input, is intended to:

  • Continue to provide primary and specialty care and ambulatory surgery and expand access to urgent care
  • Enhance the academic experience for students including a new student center to provide academic services and supports
  • Build a new Brooklyn Institute for Health Equity to do action-oriented research on health disparities

In addition, Downstate's current inpatient services will be provided by Downstate staff at other facilities in collaboration with other Brooklyn hospitals, including through a SUNY Downstate "wing" at Kings County.

The dates for the workshop sessions and surveys will be released shortly. To learn more about the plan development and visioning process, please sign up for updates at DownstateTransformed.org.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit suny.edu.


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