No decision yet about Public Advocate, nurses, healthcare workers
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Demarest decided on Wednesday that six Brooklyn community groups would be allowed a voice in legal issues being decided in her court concerning the ownership of Long Island College Hospital (LICH).
SUNY Downstate Medical Center, which has been stymied in its attempts to close LICH, had contested the legal standing of the groups, which include The Boerum Hill Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association, Cobble Hill Association, Brooklyn Heights Association, Wyckoff Gardens Association and Riverside Tenants’ Association.
On Aug. 20, Justice Demarest found that SUNY Downstate had violated its contractual obligation to keep LICH open and ordered that its valuable assets be transferred back to either Continuum Health Partners or another willing operator.
Continuum removed itself from consideration, but at least seven health organizations have indicated interest in the 155-year-old complex in Cobble Hill. SUNY has refused to provide the names of these interested parties to stakeholders.
De Blasio and the civic groups filed a “Motion to Intervene” in the case as stakeholders in the hospital’s future in late August.
“We are gratified that Judge Demarest rejected SUNY’s attempt to quash the community’s important role in this litigation, and the Community groups are equally grateful to the Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio, for paving the way for their successful motion to intervene in these law suits,” said attorney Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who represents both the community groups and de Blasio.
Besides the community groups, the state Attorney General, “Old LICH” (represented by Continuum Health Partners administrators and board members), SUNY Downstate and the state Department of Health are also a party to the proceedings.
Justice Demarest is still mulling over the standing of the Public Advocate and groups representing nurses and staff at LICH: the New York State Nurses Association and 1199 SEIU. “Those motions were argued, but she did not yet rule,” Walden said.
“We’re thrilled they have a seat at the table, said de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell. “The judge is taking additional time to render a decision on the standing of the Public Advocate,” he confirmed.
The legal proceedings could extend well past the Mayoral elections, where de Blasio, who long-ago committed to saving LICH, is the front runner.
Nurses and 1199 members said they hoped to be included, since they are members of the Coalition to Save LICH, a broad spectrum of advocates from doctors, nurses and staff to patients, community groups and de Blasio.
Check back for updates on this developing story.