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LICH closure causing growing political backlash in Brooklyn

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supported the idea of saving Long Island College Hospital (LICH) while running for Mayor in October (as seen above), is facing a backlash over his support of the sale of the hospital to developer Fortis. Photo by Mary Frost

SUNY, Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio facing pressure from residents, minority groups

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

A political rift appears to be growing between top officials and their constituents over the closure of Long Island College Hospital (LICH).

Brooklyn residents and local officials have aligned themselves against the State University of New York (SUNY) -- and by extension against Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio --  following the announcement of the sale of LICH to a developer who has no plans to operate a hospital at the site.

Adding to the pressure, minority groups and officials are expressing deep disappointment with New York State’s bypassing of two higher-ranked minority bidders to go with the third-ranked proposal by Fortis Property Group.

Following SUNY’s announcement on Friday that it had reached an “agreement in principle” to sell the LICH campus in Cobble Hill to Fortis for development into condos, local officials representing the LICH catchment area issued a statement putting them on the opposite side of the fence with the Mayor, who pushed for the deal.

While campaigning on the theme of "hospitals, not condos," De Blasio has apparently moderated his stance since becoming Mayor, saying that an urgent care center and "stand-alone ER" planned for the site will preserve health care for northwestern Brooklyn. Sources told the Brooklyn Eagle that in February the Mayor's staff put pressure on the community groups fighting for LICH to support Fortis.

State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Steve Levin, and Carlos Menchaca said in a statement on Monday, "We are distressed that SUNY has yet again ignored the needs of the community. At every step we have called for the best possible healthcare services at the LICH site, and at every step SUNY has refused to heed our calls, costing the state tens of millions and denying Brooklyn the vital healthcare it needs.

“While this agreement includes some healthcare services, it falls far short of a full-service hospital. And it does not resume immediate ambulance service, nor require an independent community needs assessment. We will continue to stand with the community, and urge SUNY and all parties to work collaboratively to meet the needs of the neighborhood and all of Brooklyn."

Members of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican/ Hispanic and Asian Caucus met on Tuesday to explore their options. Assemblymember Karim Camara (Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens), Caucus chair, told the Brooklyn Eagle late Tuesday, "The Caucus has met with representatives of the Peebles Corporation. Members expressed significant concern about the RFP process and the manner Peebles was dealt with. We will communicate our concerns with the members who could not be there, and from there we will determine how to proceed."

A letter published in the Brooklyn Eagle earlier today was a working draft inadvertantly made public, and will be updated at a later date. "We will have a better idea over the next day or so on how the Caucus would like to officially address the concerns addressed," the Assemblyman said.

Another minority-affiliated group, Mobilizing Preachers & Communities (MPAC), representing 250-plus churches in the city and state, wrote to Governor Cuomo on Tuesday today to express “deep concern about how the SUNY Board and its chairman, H. Carl McCall, have managed the sale of Long Island College Hospital.”

“The recent selection of Fortis by the SUNY Board confirms our suspicions that this process was not intended to be fair and even handed from the start,” they wrote.

MPAC says it is especially troubled by “the fact that the SUNY Board has chosen a developer who is not committed to building and maintaining a full service hospital in Brooklyn. This is a devastating development for our community.”

MPAC's letter to the governor (in full below) was signed by 76 preachers.

The advocacy group Patients for LICH issued a statement on Monday calling on Mayor de Blasio and the Health and Hospitals Corporation “to support our efforts to ensure the return of a full-service hospital to LICH and to help facilitate the New York State licensing process for such a hospital.”

Petitions organized by various Brooklyn groups garnered roughly 56,000 local signatures. (Update on petitions: 18,000 signatures gathered by NYSNA and Patients for LICH; 7,000 by Wyckoff Gardens; 15,000 by Concerned Physicians; 16,000 by Park Slope Co-op; and hundreds more from churches in Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill.)

Besides condos, Fortis will lease 80,000 square feet in one building to NYU-Langone and Lutheran Medical Center for an urgent care center, "free-standing ER" and medical offices, and set aside another 10,000 square feet for possible future medical use.

According to New York law, a "free-standing ER" can accept only what is called "basic" ambulance service. Critical care and serious emergencies will require transport to a hospital.

Before SUNY withdrew services, LICH had 90 percent in-patient occupancy and over 50,000 annual emergency room visits, serving roughly a quarter of a million people each year.

SUNY shut down the hospital last month except for a small walk-in ER. Since then, emergency departments across Brooklyn have been overcrowded, and patients have been turned away from the two closest hospitals, New York Methodist and Brooklyn Hospital Center (BHC). Healthcare workers have complained of increasingly stressful working conditions, and patients have described overnight waits on stretchers in hallways.

According to the state Department of Health, BHC's emergency department usage increased by 1,841 patients during the first four months of this year. NY Methodist told the Eagle that their ER saw an increase of 1,330 during the same time period.

Local resident Sharon Gordon told the Eagle, "My friend took her three-year-old with respiratory problems to Methodist. They wouldn't see her. She had to take her back on the ambulance and go to Cornell." She added, "This is the kind of thing that's happening in the neighborhood."

 

___________________________________________________________

Brooklyn Elected Officials' Statement on Long Island College Hospital

 

On Monday, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander, Steve Levin, and Carlos Menchaca released the following statement regarding Long Island College Hospital (LICH):

"We are distressed that SUNY has yet again ignored the needs of the community. At every step we have called for the best possible healthcare services at the LICH site, and at every step SUNY has refused to heed our calls, costing the state tens of millions and denying Brooklyn the vital healthcare it needs. While this agreement includes some healthcare services, it falls far short of a full-service hospital. And it does not resume immediate ambulance service, nor require an independent community needs assessment.

"We will continue to stand with the community, and urge SUNY and all parties to work collaboratively to meet the needs of the neighborhood and all of Brooklyn."

 

___________________________________________________________

Letter from Mobilizing Preachers & Communities (MPAC) to Governor Andrew Cuomo

 

June 16, 2014

 

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

New York State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

 

Dear Governor Cuomo:

 

Mobilizing Preachers & Communities (MPAC) is writing you today to express our deep concern about how the SUNY Board and its chairman, H. Carl McCall, have managed the sale of Long Island College Hospital (LICH). MPAC is an advocacy and grassroots organization that represents over 250 churches in the New York metropolitan area and across the state of New York.

MPAC is deeply troubled and bitterly disappointed about how the RFP process has been handled in the matter of LICH. The recent selection of Fortis by the SUNY Board confirms our suspicions that this process was not intended to be fair and even handed from the start. Even more disturbing to our member churches and congregants is how two very experienced and seasoned minority companies who finished far ahead of Fortis in the scoring process were disqualified by the board (Brooklyn Health Partners and The Peebles Corporation). How is it that a major development project of this size and caliber that will profoundly affect the health and well being of the largest county in the state of New York, whose population is over 80% minority, does not have a minority developer who has been approved to negotiate with the SUNY Board? As difficult as this is to write to you, we need you to know, Governor, that the appearance of impropriety is now perceived in our community.

In addition, what is also deeply troubling to us is the fact that the SUNY Board has chosen a developer who is not committed to building and maintaining a full service hospital in Brooklyn. This is a devastating development for our community. Universally our congregants and supporters have insisted that no matter what development group is awarded the LICH contract, it must be 100% committed to maintaining and managing a full service health care facility so the continuity of care is protected in our neighborhoods. Fortis does not intend to meet this vital threshold for the project.

We hope that you are either unaware or do not endorse the positions of the SUNY Board as it relates to the selection of Fortis. It is our hope that you will intervene with the Board of Trustees at SUNY in order to prevent the final selection of Fortis. We also ask you today to meet as soon as possible with MPAC pastors and clergy from across the region and the state in order to help develop a plan to resolve this issue.

Your leadership, Governor Cuomo, is needed now more than ever. It is our hope that you will be sensitive to our concerns, particularly with regards to the vital need we have for a full service hospital, minority participation in future development of LICH and job security for those who have now become unemployed as a result of this hospital closing.

We look forward to your favorable response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Rev. Johnnie M. Green                       

President/CEO of MPAC              

 

MPAC SUPPORTERS:

 

Patrick Young

First Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, New York

 

Johnnie Ray Youngblood, Mount Pisgah Baptist, Brooklyn, New York

 

Carl L. Washington

New Mount Zion Baptist Church, Harlem, New York

 

Edward Mulraine

Unity Baptist Tabernacle, Mount Vernon, New York

 

Dequincy Hintz

Shiloh Baptist Church, New Rochelle, New York

Lawrence Aker III – Cornerstone Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

 

Sean P. Gardner

East Ward Missionary Baptist Church, Harlem, New York

 

Renee F. Washington-Gardner

Memorial Baptist Church, Harlem, New York

 

Fredrick Crawford

Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Bronx, New York

 

Lisa D. Jenkins, St Matthews Baptist Church, Harlem, New York

Bishop Mitchell Taylor

Center of Hope International Church, Long Island City, New York

 

Ben Gibson

Progressive Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

 

Earl Jones

First Calvary Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

 

Chad Foster

Calvary Baptist Church, Buffalo, New York

Rickey Harvey

Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Rochester, New York

 

Johnnie G. McCann

St Luke Baptist Church, New York

 

Kris F. Erskine

Bethany Baptist Church, New York, New York

 

James Hassel – Kingdom Christian Cultural Church, Yonkers, New York

 

John Gilmore

New Hope Institutional Baptist Church,  Tarrytown, New York

 

Nelson Dukes

Fountain Spring Baptist Church, Bronx, New York

 

Norman Coleman – Burke Avenue Baptist Church, Bronx, New York

 

Herman Washington Shiloh Baptist Church, Rockville Centre, New York

 

Bishop Melvin Reid

Bethany Baptist Church, Queens, New York

 

Craig Scott Brown – Bethany Baptist Church, Jamaica, New York

 

Jeffrey Crenshaw

Greater Tabernacle Baptist Church, New York

John Davis

First Baptist Church, New York, New York

 

Keith Bolden

First Calvary Baptist Church, New York, New York

 

Kevin  Quarles WhosoEver Will Ministries, New York, New York

 

Pat Morrison

Springfield Baptist Church, Harlem, New York

 

Isaac Graham – Macedonia Baptist Church, New York, New York

 

Keith Robertson – Southern Baptist Church, Queens, New York

 

Sandra Baker

Ossining Baptist Church, Ossining, New York

 

Alan Paul Weaver Bethesda Baptist Church, New Rochelle, New York

 

Elgin Taylor

Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, Albany, New York

 

Byron Williams

Baptist Temple Church of Newburgh, New York

 

Grady Zellar – Greater Bright Light Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Marty Parker

Alpha Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, New York

 

Dr. Donald Butler Community Baptist  Church, Hempstead, New York

 

Bishop Eric D. Garnes – Tabernacle of Praise Cathedral, Brooklyn, New York

 

Paulette Zimmerman – Mount Zion Baptist Church, Queens, New York

Sheldon Ferguson – Mount Olivet Gospel Church, Corona, New York

Reggie Bachus

Mount Ollie Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Joe Albert Bush

Walker Memorial Baptist Church, Bronx, New York

Sedgwick Easley

Union Baptist Church, Hempstead, New York 

Daryl Frazier

Majorty Baptist Church, St Albans, New York

Steve Carter

Mount Ararat Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Craig Gaddy

Friendship Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Evan Gray

Macedonia Baptist Church, Far Rockaway, New York

Walter Hutton

Southern Baptist Church, Elmhurst, New York

Gilbert Pickett

Mount Horeb Baptist Church, Corona, New York

Robert Burkett

New Hope Baptist Church, Queens, New York

Craig Brown

Friendship Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Darrien Ferguson

Mount Carmel Baptist, Far Rockaway, New York

 

Duane Sleet – First Baptist Church, Far Rockaway, New York

Eddie Norman

Salem United Methodist Church, Harlem, New York

Robert Linden

Bethelite Institutional Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Victor Hall

Calvary Baptist Church, Jamaica, New York

James L. Cherry, Sr

Aenon Missionary Baptist Church, Rochester, New York

 

Lemuel Mobley

Living Stone Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Calvin Rice, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, Jamaica, New York

Vernon Shelton – Trinity Baptist Church, Amityville, New York

Patricia Rickenbacker Living Hope Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Massapequa, New York

 

Keith Roberson

Southern Baptist Church, New York, New York

Kimberly Detheridge

St Marks AME Church, Queens, New York

Marvin Bentley – Antioch Baptist Church, Queens, New York

William Gillison

Mount Olive Baptist Church, Buffalo, New York

Wilbur Ingram

Greater Beginnings Ministries, Queens, New York

Jeffrey Thompson

Amity Baptist Church, Queens, New York

 

Connis Mobley

United Community Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

J. D. Williams

St Johns Baptist Church, Far Rockaway, New

Rita Story

First Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, New York

 

Victor Gunter

First Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, New York

Hezekiah Wright – First Baptist Church, East Elmhurst, New York

Willie Daniels

Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, Albany, New York

 

Karl Delk

New Frontier Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

June 17, 2014 - 4:02pm
Latest Revision Time: 
June 18, 2014 - 12:00am


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