By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As the SUNY Downstate Council met on Monday to discuss their financially troubled medical center’s sustainability plan, supporters of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) and Interfaith Medical Center rallied at Downstate to oppose SUNY’s move to close LICH, and called for a moratorium on hospital closures in Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, July 16, buses will leave LICH in Cobble Hill to carry supporters to another protest at a SUNY Trustee meeting in Albany.
Last week, eighteen people were arrested at rallies protesting the closure of LICH, including nurses, hospital staff and City Council Member Stephen Levin, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and Assemblywoman Joan Millman. While Downstate says it can't afford to keep LICH open, de Blasio and other LICH supporters have charged that the closure of the hospital is “a big real estate deal” for SUNY, which stands to make up to $1 billion from the sale of the property.
A temporary restraining order issued by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes prohibited SUNY Downstate from closing LICH, which serves a swath of Brooklyn from Red Hook to Williamsburg. Attorneys for SUNY, however, filed papers on June 28 for a stay in the Appellate Division.
Downstate has proceeded to dismantle LICH while the stay request is pending, barring ambulances from LICH's emergency room, closing core departments and prohibiting new admissions. EMTs have reported overcrowding at ERs across Brooklyn as a result of the ban, and local representatives say SUNY is putting the lives of Brooklynites at risk.
On Wednesday, July 10th, Councilman Levin delivered a petition started by Assemblywoman Joan Millman with nearly 7,000 signatures demanding that LICH stay open for care to a SUNY representative.
Updated at 5:11 p.m. for sentence structure.