By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On the eve of Friday morning's “Save LICH” rally, several longtime nurses at Long Island College Hospital told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle they were distressed by the hospital's possibly imminent closing.
The Eagle's Mary Frost confirmed on Thursday that the board of SUNY, which owns LICH, was prepared to pull the plug on the ailing hospital.
SUNY Downstate Hospital in East Flatbush has been LICH’s parent the two years since it was abandoned by Continuum Health Partners and is officially called University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital.
Hervley Hill, a 13-year nurse who works in the psychiatric department, said that until recently, staffers were concentrating on their work and serving the community.
“Recently,” he said, “there’s been a lot of chatter. It’s more than chatter now. People are talking as if closure were imminent. The various areas — doctors, nurses and other disciplines — are definitely concerned about the closure of LICH.”
While LICH’s financial problems are “part of an overall problem in the healthcare system,” he said the facility would benefit from an “increase in diversity” of the services it offers.
Joan Rowley, a critical-care nurse who has worked for the hospital for 37 years, says there has been a “downward fall” in morale at the hospital. “We work with less and do more,” she said, adding that management has not talked to the nurses themselves about the problem.
“We were coming out of that [the problems of the Continuum era] and we were doing much better,” she said. “Our ER is full, our neonatal intensive care unit is one of the best in the city, so is our pulmonary unit. When Sandy was predicted, many of us came in that Sunday to prepare for it. We’ve always been there for the community.”
Ken Brereton, another psychiatric nurse who has been at the hospital for 18 years, said, “I thought Downstate would be the latest organization to put us in order,” he said. “Two years ago they fought a battle to keep the funding coming because this hospital was so vital to Brooklyn. Now, people are talking about closure.”
Speaking about the hospital’s reported excess of empty beds, Brereton said, “I can speak for psychiatry. Here, we’re 100 percent full 365 days a year.”
LICH’s nurses are represented by the New York State Nurses Association.