Six civic organizations join de Blasio against SUNY Downstate
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio announced on Friday that six influential Brooklyn civic organizations have signed on as co-plaintiffs in his lawsuit to keep the Long Island College Hospital open.
The Boerum Hill Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Cobble Hill Association, Brooklyn Heights Association, Wyckoff Gardens Association and Riverside Tenants’ Association have joined as full partners a legal action to avert the shutdown, de Blasio said.
Also joining the suit is a local resident whose husband recently suffered chest pains and had to travel to Methodist Hospital for treatment. Because Methodist’s ER has been packed since LICH was placed on ambulance diversion by SUNY Downstate, her husband waited over seven hours for treatment—a delay their doctor told them could be life-threatening the next time.
Adding her voice at the press conference was Academy Award-nominated actress and nearby resident, Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone,” “The Office,” “In Treatment”), whose child was a patient at LICH and is fighting the hospital’s closure.
“When my family needed LICH, it was there for us,” Ryan said. “It was a seven-minute sprint from the playground to their emergency room the day my daughter was injured, and waiting for us was an incredible pediatric emergency team. It means the world to me to know there’s a first-class pediatric trauma center in the neighborhood.”
Last week, de Blasio filed an amended petition to prevent the shutdown of LICH and hold SUNY accountable for violating the Temporary Restraining Order he secured on July 19th, which continues to require the hospital to stay open.
The local organizations have already been involved in focusing the public’s attention on the closure. “They’re facing the loss of their doctors, their clinics and their emergency rooms,” de Blasio said.
On Friday, organization representatives explained why they were adding their firepower to the legal action.
“By becoming co-petitioners on this lawsuit, we are sending SUNY a message—we will not take this closure sitting down, and we are going to be a force to reckon with,” Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association said. “Closing LICH is robbing this neighborhood of accessible medical services, and we have to keep fighting until our message is heard loud and clear.”
“Our communities need LICH—and LICH needs a competent operator. The BHA has been working to that end with community groups and elected officials, doctors, nurses and hospital employees since February,” said Jane McGroarty of the Brooklyn Heights Association.
“LICH is essential to the health, safety and welfare of the hundreds of thousands of people who live, work and play in the downtown Brooklyn every day. There is a health care emergency in Brooklyn,” said Roy Sloane, President of the Cobble Hill Association.
“Closing this hospital would be a crushing blow to the thousands of Brooklynites who rely on [LICH] for care, and for all our families who will have to travel miles to the nearest hospital. said Gary Reilly, Executive Board Member of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association. “SUNY should work with the community to find other ways of sustaining our hospital before shutting the doors of this institution.”
“What SUNY is doing to this community is an absolute disgrace, and we are going to fight tooth and nail to ensure that the interests of our residents are protected. We are proud to stand by Public Advocate de Blasio in this fight and look forward to seeing a favorable outcome in the end,” said William Ringler, Chairperson’s Representative for the Riverside Tenants’ Association.
Financially troubled SUNY Downstate has been attempting to close LICH for months, despite fierce community opposition and questions about the legality of the closure.
The Public Advocate and civic groups are being represented by attorney Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.