Community's lawyer to SUNY: 'We will not accept a cram down'
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The State University of New York (SUNY) board of trustees is set to vote on Monday or Tuesday on a revised proposal to sell Long Island College Hospital (LICH), in Cobble Hill to Fortis Property Group, insiders have told The Brooklyn Eagle.
SUNY said it had no comment on the vote.
The SUNY board meeting takes place Monday and Tuesday in Albany.
"We are mobilizing to be there for both days," said Eliza Bates, spokesperson for the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), a member of a coalition that has been fighting to save LICH for more than a year.
In December, SUNY's Academic Medical Centers and Hospital Committee tabled the controversial proposal, which would have leased the hospital's main building to ProHealth for a "medical mall," and developed the other 20 or so LICH buildings as condos.
In the revised proposal, Fortis would partner with NYU Langone Medical Center, which would provide medical services including an emergency department where some initial treatment could be provided, though not inpatient hospital care, according to a source familiar with the proposal.
While SUNY did not comment on the deal, Crain's New York reported that NYU hopes to provide the above services plus a cancer center, ambulatory surgery and other medical care, while Lutheran Medical Center would provide dental and behavioral health care.
Brooklyn Hospital Center recently put in a similar bid to provide medical services and partner with a developer who would convert most of LICH's holdings to rentals. This proposal, however, came after the RFP process had closed.
A coalition of LICH supporters, including six community groups, unions and representatives, most notably newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio, have been fighting for more than a year to preserve LICH as a full-service hospital.
Attorney for the community groups and Mayor de Blasio, Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, told the Brooklyn Eagle that a vote on Monday or Tuesday would only lead to more litigation.
"The eleventh-hour emergence of the Brooklyn Hospital and NYU-Langone proposals is certainly interesting. But SUNY must understand that this has only confirmed, in my clients' collective view, the flawed nature of the RFP process, which never seemed intended to identify an opportunity for a full-service hospital," Walden said.
He added, "If SUNY wants to make the case to all stakeholders that one of these proposals has merit, and represents a best-case scenario, it should delay any vote and give us time to evaluate the proposals. My clients will not accept a cram down. A premature vote will result only in continued litigation over SUNY's prior contempt and new litigation to block any award of a contract. If SUNY's trustees agree to defer a vote, as we have requested of them in direct communications, SUNY can expect us to act expeditiously to evaluate the existing proposals to deterrmine whether these proposals meet stakeholders' needs."
LICH advocates were unhappy about the news that NYU intended to partner with Fortis.
Community resident Trudy Wassner, home recovering from the flu, said hearing about the revised proposal left her feeling "sick to my stomach."
"The community-based organizations, the nurses and doctors of LICH, Patients for LICH, local politicians, the 16,000 signers of the Save LICH petition, haven't been fighting this whole year to keep LICH as a full service hospital in order to reach an outcome of a glorified real estate deal with a "freestanding emergency room" to funnel patients to NYU Langone, Brooklyn Hospital, Lutheran Hospital or any of the other vulture-like institutions in waiting."