By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Hospital Center confirmed late Wednesday a Crain’s New York report that Brooklyn Hospital has put in a bid to buy Long Island College Hospital (LICH), with backing from private capital and a plan to build 1,000 mixed-income apartments.
Eric Sommer, Director of Marketing for Brooklyn Hospital, confirmed as "essentially correct" the report that the hospital had drafted a plan with a private-equity firm and a developer to close LICH as a full-service hospital and “repurpose” the property as apartments and “a comprehensive care center with ambulance service and a freestanding emergency department."
Similar to a proposal that was tabled less than a month ago by LICH operator SUNY Downstate, the hospital would close, and outpatient services, such as radiology, laboratory and endoscopy, outpatient surgery, physical therapy and more would be provided, though not necessarily on the LICH campus.
Brooklyn Hospital, two miles away in Downtown Brooklyn, would absorb LICH's hospital services.
In December SUNY's Academic Medical Centers and Hospital Committee had put on hold a proposal to begin negotiations with the mega-developer Fortis Property Group. Fortis, which responded to a SUNY’s Request For Proposals to take over LICH, had planned to lease much of the property now being used as LICH’s main hospital building to ProHealth, which specializes in primary care. The other 20 or so LICH buildings would be developed as condominiums.
The SUNY board, however, expressed unease with the notion of selling LICH’s Cobble Hill real estate before entering into discussions with the community and a new city administration.
SUNY spokesperson David Doyle told the Brooklyn Eagle late Wednesday, "SUNY is engaged in a procurement process and it is not concluded at this time therefore we cannot make comments on specific proposals. The RFP process and evaluation results were presented and discussed with the Academic Medical Center Committee in December. The Committee forwarded its support to proceed with the RFP process to the Executive Committee. That Committee wanted an opportunity to further consider the proposal in light of the new Mayoral administration. Therefore further action was tabled at that time; the process has not concluded."
Brooklyn Hospital was not part of SUNY's RFP process, and SUNY has said that it would not reopen the process. LICH supporters have demanded a new RFP be issued that would require an eventual operator to keep a full-service hospital at LICH.
A coalition of LICH supporters, including six community groups, Mayor Bill de Blasio, unions and patients, have not deviated from their demand that the hospital at LICH be maintained.
In Brooklyn Hospital's plan, LICH's valuable real estate would be packaged as rentals, as opposed to condos as in the Fortis plan. While Fortis planned a "medical mall" in the original LICH hospital building, the Brooklyn Hospital plan only specifies two clinics and two urgent care centers "would be located in LICH's geographic service area."
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