By Dr. Brian F Gilchrist
For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The travesty unfolding at Long Island College Hospital is not necessary. Indeed, LICH can be saved, and it can serve as a safe harbor for all the children and mothers in this borough. LICH is gone as a general hospital, of that there can be no debate, but the purpose and the spirit of LICH can be saved and sustained by transforming it into a women’s and infant’s hospital. This would serve many purposes, all of them noble.
First, Brooklyn has no children’s hospital, and the bitter fragmentation of children’s services has been costly and has rendered poor care for the children who live here. If all the pediatric care in the entire borough were centered at LICH, the savings for the other hospitals and the state would be signiﬁcant. However, more importantly, the care of children would be improved substantially. A women’s and children’s hospital caring only for children and their mothers would be focused, full and ﬁnancially solvent. The moral imperative is self evident, as is the need.
The geographic location of LICH renders it accessible as a Level 1 trauma center for children up to the age of 18. Such a designation would allow LICH to gain monies from the federal government for programs in trauma prevention, gun education and helmet protection for bicyclists. Federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense would ﬁll the coffers at LICH with cash for programs that can and do impact future American security.
However, it is in the bailiwick of neonatal surgery where LICH can become a ﬁrst-class children’s hospital and a ﬁnancial bonanza. Neonatal surgical cases individually bring $300,000 per case to an institution. If all the high-risk mothers in this borough delivered their babies at LICH, and the neonatal cases of this borough were done only at LICH, the infusion of cases, cash and superb state-of- the- art care could be had at LICH.
There would be no need to send the cases to Manhattan. Brooklyn kids would be cared for in a Brooklyn children’s hospital right in the family’s neighborhood.
And I know that I am right about this; I built a children’s hospital in New Hampshire because people were sick and weary of going to Boston for their children’s care. We did it in the forest, and we did it in two years! You simply need the spirit to do it. Indeed, you have a proud, wonderful and beautiful hospital already in place, so paint the walls in pastels, draw tigers and elephants and giraffes on the walls, and get the best people to man the hospital. Go and and take care of Brooklyn’s kids and mothers under one roof, under one service and in doing so, do God’s work: Save jobs, save lives and save your hospital. I can think of no more noble mission for you than to save LICH by making it into a place that saves your own mothers and children. I would be happy to lead the charge for you, but get Rev. Sharpton and Oprah to help. After all, I’m just one pediatric surgeon, but I am game to come back and be a part of this noble endeavor. Don’t just think about saving the hospital, rather think about saving kids’ lives!
--Brian F Gilchrist, MD FACS