Downstate president LaRosa steps down, instrumental in LICH agreement

Dr. John LaRosa, president of SUNY Downstate Medical Center under whose tenure the hospital merged with Long Island College Hospital and took over part of the former Victory Memorial Hospital will be stepping down after 13 years in the position.

After a year’s leave, LaRosa, a Brooklyn Heights resident, plans to return to his faculty duties and continue his scholastic career in medical education.

Until a new president is selected, Ian Taylor, M.D., Ph.D, dean of Downstate’s College of Medicine and senior vice president for Biomedical Education and Research, has been appointed to serve as officer-in-charge.

Last year, LaRosa presided over a ceremony bringing Long Island College Hospital (now known as University Hospital at Long Island College Hospital) into the Downstate orbit.

During his speech, LaRosa emphasized that his mission was not to “take a broom” to LICH (presumably meaning to fire employees).

“We need all of you,” he said.

Indeed, he emphasized, the motto of the merger, also displayed as part of a slide show, was “Together Again.” This refers to the fact that until the early 1950s, the ancestor of the medical school that is now part of SUNY Downstate’s parent campus in East Flatbush was at LICH.

Zippi Dvash, spokeswoman for University Hospital at LICH, said LaRosa played an important part in the negotiations between the two institutions, thus ensuring LICH’s survival as a high-quality community hospital.

Craig Hammerman, district manager for Community Board 6, added, “I think his personal involvement was something we saw as critical to the success of the deal.”

In January 2011, Downstate opened a medical facility at the site of the bankrupt Victory Memorial Hospital in Bay Ridge that now includes a walk-in Urgent Care Center, Ambulatory Surgery Center, Advanced Endoscopy Center, Laser Vision Correction Center and laboratory and radiology support services.The entrance of Long Island College Hospital, before the merger with Downstate.  Eagle file photo

“SUNY Downstate is delighted to provide Brooklyn residents in the Bay Ridge area with these critical healthcare services,” LaRosa said at the time.

Yesterday, John Quaglione, spokesman for state Senator Marty Golden (D-Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights), said that Downstate’s opening a facility at the site fills a void.

If not for the urgent care center there, he added, people with minor injuries would go to the emergency rooms of Maimonides and Lutheran hospitals, overwhelming those facilities.

During LaRosa’s tenure with the institution, educational programming was expanded to include master’s and doctoral degrees in public health, an accelerated baccalaureate nursing degree, and a Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering.

Furthermore, he oversaw the creation of essential clinical services, including cardiovascular and cardiothoracic programs, a Clinical Neurosciences Center, and services for women and children, including a renovated labor and delivery suite and a new neonatal intensive care unit.

LaRosa pushed boundaries with the development of the first biotechnology incubator built in New York City in more than a decade, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to foster biotechnology development in Brooklyn.

Raanan Geberer

Brooklyn Daily Eagle