‘Lean In’ says Heights Association
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Saying that the life of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) has reached a “critical” moment, supporters of the beleaguered Cobble Hill institution have started a letter-writing campaign to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and will be holding a fundraiser on Friday.
“The Governor needs to take charge. So far, he has refused to meet with our local elected officials,” said the Brooklyn Heights Association in a statement. “We need to show Governor Cuomo that we expect him, as our elected representative, to act in the best interests of the western Brooklyn residential and business community.”
“Lean in by speaking out!” BHA told its members.
“This is an institution that has served Brooklyn for 150 years and should not be shuttered without a full and serious exploration of alternatives,” BHA President Jane McGroarty said in a letter sent Wednesday to Governor Cuomo and Dr. Nirav Shah, Commissioner, NYS Department of Health.
SUNY Downstate on May 1 issued a public Request for Information (RFI) to find another operator to take over some or all of the Cobble Hill hospital, an affiliate. While SUNY has officially withdrawn its closure plan for LICH, doctors say that, unofficially, SUNY is removing resources and staff, putting the hospital at risk of collapse.
“SUNY Downstate has withdrawn its closure plan but not its closure behavior,” McGroarty said. “It is starving LICH in terms of personnel and house staff in violation of the TRO order by the NYS Supreme Court.”
The Concerned Physicians of Long Island College Hospital and the NYS Nurses Association have put together a fundraiser for Friday at 6 p.m. at 320 Atlantic Avenue to raise money for the continuing legal battle.
“The outpouring of support from our patients, Brownstone Brooklyn neighbors, and elected officials has validated LICH’s importance to the community,” said Dr. Toomas Sorra, president of the Concerned Physicians of LICH said in a statement. “But Downstate’s ongoing efforts to close LICH to access its real estate have interfered with our functioning as a hospital that provides quality healthcare. Our patients deserve better.”
NYS Nurses Association and the Healthcare Workers Union met with Congressman Daniel Squadron on Thursday to discuss safe staffing levels, according to Squadron’s office.
At a meeting of its board in Manhattan last month, SUNY presented a four-year restructuring plan that would save financially-troubled SUNY Downstate Hospital by shrinking it and forming a network with other Brooklyn hospitals – but not LICH. Downstate must begin implementing the plan on June 15.
In the plan overview, SUNY says the financial difficulties of UHB have “reached the point where they imperil the future viability of Downstate’s academic enterprise.”
All eyes are now focused on the lucrative value of LICH's real estate to SUNY Downstate, LICH supporters say.
In spite of mismanagement, McGroarty said, LICH “has remained a viable and busy hospital; in fact, last summer the elected officials were told that LICH had broken even in the previous quarter. LICH occupancy for 2012 is higher than the average of many other Brooklyn hospitals.”
Last October LICH was a crucial site during and after Hurricane Sandy when several hospitals had to shut down – including NYU, Bellevue and Coney Island Hospital.