SUNY sets Monday deadline; LICH supporters question legality
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn elected officials on Friday rejected SUNY’s invitation to participate in its revamped search for a buyer for Long Island College Hospital (LICH) -- a request one political insider called “bizarre,” considering that these same officials on Wednesday had denounced SUNY’s “last-minute, rushed” RFP-redo.
SUNY sent a letter to Public Advocate Letitia James on Thursday asking Brooklyn officials to choose two representatives to help judge offers to buy LICH. (Letter below.) The offers are to be resubmitted by the bidders who participated in the original Request For Proposals process. The rejiggered bids are due on Monday, SUNY says.
Advocates for LICH say the original RFP process was shrouded in secrecy and slanted towards real estate developers, and the “redo” is more of the same.
“We need a process that accounts for the health needs of the population served by the hospital,” said one official. “This is too little, too late.” (Their full statement is below.)
The advocacy group Patients for LICH questioned the legitimacy of SUNY’s actions. “The legality of this limited re-opening is questionable. It also belies SUNY officials' statements to their own Trustees, who have been told time and time again, in response to their questions in Trustee meetings, that the RFP process followed required state procedures and could not be re-opened.”
On Wednesday, Brooklyn officials including Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senators Daniel Squadron and Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Steve Levin, and Carlos Menchaca pushed for a top-to-bottom RFP redo.
"SUNY's process has fallen far short, by any reasonable standards,” they said in a joint statement. “It limits the bidders to the handful of real-estate developers who chose to reply to the same RFP SUNY released in July, after which two separate State Supreme Court Justices ruled that SUNY failed to follow proper procedure or appropriately consider the community health impacts of LICH's closure.”
New bidders are not allowed to submit proposals, SUNY says, but can notify SUNY that they are interested in partnering with one of the original bidders.
Interested parties will be in the dark about who exactly they are signing up to partner with, however. SUNY has not revealed the names or affiliations of the original bidders, with the exception of Fortis Property Group, the developer which won the RFP bidding process the first time around.
LICH supporters said they were dubious that a comprehensive plan to serve the health care needs of Brooklyn’s fastest growing neighborhoods, along with some of its most underserved, could be developed by anonymous developers in five days.
Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, said in a statement, "SUNY is not offering a process with a realistic time frame or one which will afford all potential hospital operators a meaningful opportunity to submit viable proposals that respond to the health care needs of the community."
SUNY, however, is proceeding with its plan. Parties interested in LICH should contact SUNY before Monday, SUNY Communications Director David Doyle said in a statement.
“In an effort to provide maximum opportunity for participation in the renewed Long Island College Hospital RFP process, SUNY encourages all interested parties to contact SUNY Senior Contract Manager Jordan Lohre, at Jordan.Lohre@suny.edu, with the name of the interested firm and appropriate contact information as soon as possible. This interest and information will be shared with bidders for consideration as proposals are currently being revised for re-submission by Monday, Feb. 3, 2014.”
Allowing the existing bidders to tweak their proposals would allow Fortis, which proposes to build condos on the property, to replace ProHealth medical group with NYU Langone Medical Center for the health services fraction of the proposal.
Brooklyn Hospital Center, which itself hopes to develop the property with apartments, had protested when SUNY had allowed Fortis to change the health provider to NYU after the RFP process had been completed.
Both Fortis and Brooklyn Hospital Center said they would provide ambulatory medical services, but no hospital, which community organization, unions and patients say is an indispensable requirement.
Elected officials offered their own detailed suggestions for reissuing the RFP. These can be found at www.brooklyneagle.com
Patients for LICH also called on SUNY to “open the RFP process to all interested parties” and “extend the process for a reasonable length of time in order to allow full-service hospital operators to apply.” (Their full statement can be found below.)
According to Crain’s NY, a proposal which included a full-service hospital was made by the Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization (CCACO) of Manhattan, in collaboration with the Eastern Chinese American Physicians IPA, and Brisa Builders Corp. CCACO describes it self as “a physician-owned and operated accountable care organization” which is geared towards meeting the specific needs of the Chinese community.
In a letter to all firms that submitted proposals, SUNY said it would allow “additional interested parties” to participate in the evaluation process. “Therefore, you are invited to resubmit your proposal, revised to reflect your final and best offer, which may include additional or substituted collaborators and enhanced health care service and financial terms.”
Brooklyn Elected Officials Respond to SUNY on Long Island College Hospital
BROOKLYN -- Today, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Steve Levin, and Carlos Menchaca sent the following letter to State University of New York (SUNY) Chairman Carl McCall regarding Long Island College Hospital (LICH):
February 1, 2014
H. Carl McCall, Chairman, Board of Trustees
The State University of New York
33 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
Dear Chairman McCall,
As federal, state and city elected officials representing the community impacted by Long Island College Hospital, we are deeply disappointed in the wide gap between your letter of January 30, which claims SUNY has embarked on a process that is “reopened and publicly transparent,” and your continued actions, which neither correct the deficiencies of the July Request for Proposals (RFP), nor add meaningful transparency. As we have told you collectively, SUNY's current path is not legal and will not lead to the best possible conclusion to address the community's needs. As such, we will not participate in this process.
For more than a year, each of us, along with community organizations and healthcare providers, have urged SUNY to adopt a truly fair and open process with the shared goal of preserving healthcare in Brooklyn. At every step, including at the meeting convened by Public Advocate James and referenced in your January 30 letter, we have been rebuffed.
As we have expressed repeatedly, a good-faith effort to solve the crisis at LICH must include a fundamentally improved process, with healthcare focused priorities and significant community representation throughout. As you know, allotting the community merely one token representative per committee is deeply insufficient, as is the continuation of the same RFP process that has been rejected since July.
We have outlined a process to reach a reasonable conclusion. We again implore SUNY to engage it substantively. SUNY's unwillingness to meaningfully address our concerns needlessly risks extending the process indefinitely.
Nydia M. Velazquez, Member of Congress
Daniel Squadron, State Senator
Joan Millman, Assembly Member
Brad Lander, City Councilmember
Stephen T. Levin, City Councilmember
Carlos Menchaca, City Councilmember
Statement from Patients for LICH about the SUNY RFP Process
LICH patients and other community stakeholders are unwavering in our recognition of the need for a full-service hospital at LICH. Although SUNY’s prior RFI process elicited interest from would-be hospital operators, SUNY officials have indicated that no bidders came forward in the RFP process to operate a full-service hospital. We maintain that this process was flawed and misrepresented LICH finances, deterring hospital operators; hence, our insistence that the RFP process be fully reopened.
SUNY’s letter of January 28, 2014 to RFP respondents regarding opening the LICH RFP process for a few days and only to previous bidders ignores the concerns of LICH patients and other stakeholders who have called for a new RFP process. The legality of this limited re-opening is questionable. It also belies SUNY officials' statements to their own Trustees, who have been told time and time again, in response to their questions in Trustee meetings, that the RFP process followed required state procedures and could not be re-opened.
SUNY's letter to RFP respondents proves that the RFP process can indeed be modified. We are asking SUNY and its Board of Trustees for the following modifications:
1. To open the RFP process to all interested parties.
2. To extend the process for a reasonable length of time in order to allow full-service hospital operators to apply.
3. To work with community stakeholders to revise the RFP priorities and evaluation criteria so as to attract full-service hospital operators rather than real estate developers. (In that regard, the letter is particularly egregious in stating that special consideration will be given to groups that can get the money fast and do not need approvals.)
4. To specify that ‘additional interested parties’ to participate in the evaluation must be LICH stakeholders: patients; physicians, nurses, and other LICH employees; representatives of community organizations; and elected officials.
We would like to remind you that in May 2011, when SUNY Downstate took over operation of LICH, the Attorney General's and NYS Supreme Court's approval of the transfer was premised on SUNY's maintaining LICH as a full-service, acute-care hospital. The court documents at that time – just over two and a half years ago – went into great detail on the need for and importance of a full-service hospital at LICH. That need is even greater today and into the future, given the growing population of our communities, as well as LICH's strategic location for disaster response.
Finally, we are not unmindful of current losses at LICH. But, as you know, those losses stem from SUNY officials' refusal to admit patients, closing departments including surgery, and removing the residency program, among other actions -- so the hospital currently has little income. The RFP process cannot be held hostage to SUNY's choice to incur these losses. The priority for the RFP evaluation must be our communities' long term health care needs.
Letter from H. Carl McCall, Chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees, to Public Advocate Letitia James
January 30, 2014
Ms. Letitia James
Office of the New York City Public Advocate
1 Centre Street, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Dear Public Advocate Letitia James,
The State University of New York (SUNY) takes very seriously your concerns regarding our ongoing efforts to allow SUNY to exit the operation of the Long Island College Hospital (LICH), responsibly allow another health operator to provide needed medical services in the community, and to protect taxpayers and students from the financial losses that have been incurred by SUNY and continue to threaten not only the Downstate campus but the state’s entire system of public higher education.
Over the past two weeks alone we met with you and other community leaders at which time we specifically outlined the course we would engage in to reopen the RFP and invited you and your colleagues to participate in our process.
Once again, I would like to formally invite you to participate in the process to find a long term health solution in your community.
Thus, we are asking you and your colleagues to collectively provide two evaluators to help review and score the plans under the reopened and publicly transparent process we outlined in our January 28, 2014 letter (see attached). One evaluator will serve on the Technical and one on the Financial review teams. We would respectfully request the evaluators have the expertise and background to complete the evaluation.
Please contact Lora Lefebvre at Lora.Lefebvre@suny.edu or 518-320-1660 with the names and contact information for the two individuals by February 3rd.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Sincerely, H. Carl McCall
cc: Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, State Senators Daniel Squadron and Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Steve Levin, and Carlos Menchaca