SUNY, Public Works Partners Release Preliminary Report Highlighting SUNY Downstate Community Engagement Process and Findings

March 20, 2024

The interim report is part of SUNY's robust community engagement process focused on shaping a proposed $300 million capital investment for a stronger SUNY Downstate

The report can be found here

Brooklyn, N.Y. — The State University of New York (SUNY) and SUNY Downstate today released the Interim Community Engagement Report to showcase the initial findings from community engagement efforts surrounding the State's proposed $300 million capital investment in a stronger SUNY Downstate.

SUNY led this process with the support of public engagement experts Public Works Partners (Public Works) to better understand the perspectives of diverse stakeholders vital to the future of SUNY Downstate, including patients, Central Brooklyn residents, leaders of local nonprofits and faith-based organizations, and Downstate students, faculty, staff, and hospital employees.

"We are committed to a strong future for Downstate, which means we need to urgently address the crisis facing the hospital building's infrastructure and its massive deficits," said SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. "We are fortunate that the State is proposing a historic $300 million capital investment in Downstate's future, and through our community engagement process, SUNY has heard about the concerns, ideas, and aspirations of more than 1,000 people who care deeply about Downstate. These conversations are just the first step in shaping the next chapter of this vital institution."

So far, the community engagement process has taken place through in-person convenings, a public survey that was distributed to over 36,000 individuals and has generated more than 1,000 responses so far, and individual conversations with hundreds of stakeholders.

The main findings of the preliminary report include:

  • Preserving and expanding specialty care, while continuing to provide high-quality services to a diverse population, is a top priority for stakeholders.
  • Stakeholders identified Maternal-Child Health and Primary Care as priorities for expanded service options, noting the immediate community needs.
  • Students and faculty in particular prioritize better access to educational resources and training opportunities, such as clerkships, residencies, and rotations (two-thirds of all clerkships and residencies for SUNY Downstate students are already provided at other hospitals).
  • The academic community requested more research opportunities for students, including health equity research, noting that capital investments should be paired with investments in human capital.
  • While stakeholders place tremendous value on Downstate's community-driven mission, they identified improved facilities and services as a top priority for a stronger Downstate.
  • Strengthening Downstate means having a highly-accessible physical anchor for the campus paired with investments in community health.

This initial community engagement phase will include two more stakeholder convenings in the upcoming weeks. The next convening will be a Maternal-Child Health forum with practitioners, medical advocates, and community health representatives. The final convening in this series will include an additional cohort of community representatives. Community engagement will continue through the spring and beyond, including on potential future community-focused uses of the current hospital building.

"SUNY Downstate is a vital institution for Central Brooklyn, so it is critical that we take community feedback into account as we build a plan for a stronger Downstate," said SUNY Downstate President Dr. Wayne J. Riley. "Over the past several weeks, we have heard from thousands of individuals who are engaged with Downstate, including patients, faculty, hospital staff, students, and members of the community. We face an urgent need for change and deeply appreciate and prioritize ongoing community input as we prepare our plan for the future."

"We want to thank everyone that has dedicated their time to the engagement process thus far," said Celeste Frye, Principal & CEO at Public Works Partners. "We heard over and over again how important Downstate is to this community and we recognize that community input is instrumental in strengthening the institution. These are challenging and worthwhile conversations and we are grateful to those individuals that came to us with their questions, ideas, and visions for the future of Downstate as the engagement process continues."

For more information, please visit AStrongerDownstate.org – including a comprehensive fact sheet, analysis of Brooklyn hospital capacity, and detailed financial information via independent audits.

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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