By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The fate of ambulance service to Long Island College Hospital (LICH), banned by LICH’s overseer SUNY Downstate, is still “up in the air,” said Dr. Toomas Sorra, spokesperson for a group of physicians – Concerned Physicians of LICH – working to keep the Cobble Hill Hospital open.
According to Sorra, in a closed conference on Monday Supreme Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes “ordered ambulances to start running at noon Tuesday,” and ordered SUNY Downstate to report on the status of their compliance on Tuesday. “SUNY submitted an affidavit on Tuesday saying it was impossible for them to respond to the order,” Sorra said.
Bob Bellafiore, spokesperson for SUNY Downstate, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday, “I cannot confirm that; I have heard nothing of the kind.”
LICH’s emergency room was still not accepting ambulances Tuesday afternoon, though walk-in patients were being treated. EMTs have reported overcrowding at ERs across Brooklyn as a result of the ban.
"Monday's conference was not on the record and open to the public, but in our belief it was the intention of the court to have SUNY Downstate comply with the previous orders which would require them to maintain adequate staffing at LICH. SUNY is working to comply with the TRO [Temporary Restraining Order]," an attorney for Concerned Physicians of LICH told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday.
SUNY Downstate maintains they had to close the ER and critical care areas of LICH because of a shortage of staff, a situation compounded by SUNY’s elimination of the residency program at LICH.
Last Wednesday, however, Judge Baynes said that closing the ER constituted a “clear violation” of his court order, adding that he might go so far as to appoint a special administrator or special master to oversee LICH.