Confirmed: LICH bidding attracts strong interest from full service hospital teams

Brooklyn community organizations who were petitioners in the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) litigation have confirmed that they met this week with three groups who have presented plans to operate a full-service hospital at the LICH site.

The hospital in Cobble Hill is up for sale by operator SUNY Downstate, which has issued a revised Request for Proposals (RFP) that gives extra points to groups seeking to keep LICH in operation as a full service hospital.

This is a dramatically different outcome than the first round of bidding for LICH, carried out through an RFP process criticized as being secretive and designed to favor developers seeking to turn LICH's 20 historic structures into residential and commercial development.

The teams must present their formal bids by the March 19 deadline.

“That makes the new RFP a success in one regard at least: it attracted more hospital operators,” a source connected with the RFP process told the Eagle.

The source also said that “the hospital bidders showed an evidence-based knowledge of LICH's finances. They all said LICH is economically viable.”

UPDATE: Three other groups, who all submitted proposals in the first RFP round, "have substantially the same plans as before," the community organizations said.

In a joint statement released late Friday, the organizations said, "We are pleased that, at this point, half of the respondents are proposing a hospital. Final proposals are due March 19, with a seven-day review period to follow before a proposal is selected. The community organizations plan to hold an open forum during the review period so that all members of the LICH community have an opportunity to discuss the proposals."

The community organizations' full statement follows this article.

"Our hopes are raised every day by the strong interest among proposed bidders who, armed with the facts, see the need for, and financial viability of, a full service hospital at LICH,” Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher told the Brooklyn Eagle on Friday. “In light of the scoring preference for a full service hospital, a proposal for one should win the day. An eager, galvanized community will make it succeed, where others have failed." Walden represents six community groups and others in the legal battle to keep LICH open.

The reissued RFP, taking the health needs of the community into consideration rather than LICH's real estate value, was one of the core requirements of the coalition of community groups, unions, and others who fought SUNY’s attempts to close LICH over the past year.

Several of the original bidders have been making the arguement that LICH -- which serves a large swath of the fastest growing section of Brooklyn, from Red Hook through Downtown to Williamsburg -- is not only not viable, but no longer necessary.

At an outreach meeting Thursday night at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Carroll Gardens, Dr. Richard B. Becker, CEO of The Brooklyn Hospital Center (BHC) in Fort Greene, presented this case for closing LICH to an audience of 60 – 70 residents.

Dr. Becker’s message -- that an urgent care center, small emergency department and satellite clinics could adequately replace the hospital – was met with skepticism and a barrage of questions, many left unanswered due to tight time constraints.

In the proposal, put together by developer Related Companies and Blue Wolf Capital, the majority of LICH’s valuable Brownstone real estate would be developed as residential.

“A full service hospital is not our mission,” Dr. Becker said. “Ninety percent of patients don’t require an overnight hospital stay. This is happening across, the country. As patients, it’s a good thing. Nobody wants to go the hospital if they don’t need to.”

Another potential bidder with a similar philosophy is Fortis Property Group (partnering with L&M and KF Brock, NYU-Langone and Lutheran Family Health Centers).

Others who have indicated an interest in submitting proposals include include Peebles Corporation (partnering with the Institute for Family Health); Brisa Builders (partnering with the Chetrit Group); and others including Toll Brother and Memorial Sloan Kettering.

A bidding group made up of the Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization (CCACO), partnering with the Eastern Chinese American Physician IPA, developer John Catsimatidis and Rudy Washington proposed a full service hospital in the first rounds of bidding and told the Eagle that they intend to participate in this latest round.

The identities of the other teams interested in operating LICH as a full service hospital have not been made public.

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Statement from the Boerum Hill Association, Brooklyn Heights Association, Cobble Hill Association, Riverside Tenants Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association and Wykoff Gardens Association, Inc.:

The six community organizations who were petitioners in the LICH litigation met this week with all potential RFP respondents who accepted our invitation to meet. The potential respondents described their plans, beginning with a 15-minute overview, followed by questions and discussion. The community organizations reiterated their desire for a full-service teaching hospital at the LICH site.

Three groups presented plans to operate a full-service hospital at the LICH site. The other three groups, who all submitted proposals in the first RFP process, have substantially the same plans as before. Two teams offered stand-alone ERs with 10 to 15 bays and no more than 10 observation beds with no in-patient beds. By comparison the current LICH emergency room has 40 bays. The third non-hospital proposal called for outpatient services with urgent care.

We are pleased that, at this point, half of the respondents are proposing a hospital. Final proposals are due March 19, with a seven-day review period to follow before a proposal is selected. The community organizations plan to hold an open forum during the review period so that all members of the LICH community have an opportunity to discuss the proposals.