BREAKING: Another reprieve for Brooklyn's LICH; Judge issues temporary restraining order

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes issued a temporary restraining order on Monday, April 1 that bars the New York State Department of Health from shutting down Long Island College Hospital (LICH) until at least May 2.

Saying that financial troubles at LICH threatened SUNY Downstate, the SUNY board of trustees voted on March 19 to close LICH, a Downstate affiliate. The March 19 vote was the board’s second vote; Justice Baynes ruled on March 14 that the original board meeting didn’t comply with the Open Meetings Law.

On Monday, Judge Baynes ordered SUNY to rescind the LICH closing plan until SUNY subjects the plan to “adequate review,” as required under New York Education Law 356. He criticized several aspects of the plan, and called Dr. John Williams’ recommendation to close LICH “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and a violation of lawful procedure.” [A full analysis of this order follows at brooklyneagle.com]

“This temporary restraining order is another victory for Brooklyn patients who depend on LICH, and for nurses, caregivers, and doctors who are fighting to keep our hospital open for care,” said Jill Furillo, RN, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association.

But SUNY spokesperson David D. Doyle said SUNY was deeply disappointed.  “SUNY Downstate is in a financial crisis and it is a race against the clock to save medical education, thousands of jobs, and high quality patient care in Brooklyn.”

The temporary restraining order was sought by the NYS Nurses Association; 1199 SEIU United; Healthcare Workers East; Concerned Physicians of LICH and Carl Biers. The defendants were the NYS Department of Health and its Commissioner Nirav Shah, MD; the State University of New York (SUNY); SUNY Downstate Medical Center; Downstate’s Council; and the President of SUNY Downstate John F. Williams.