By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Supporters of Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital (LICH) will march from Red Hook this Sunday, April 7 at 1 p.m. to bring attention to the immanent closure of the 150-year-old hospital.
The rally preceding the march will take place in Red Hook at Coffey Park, 85 Richards Street, near the entrance on Dwight and Verona Streets. The march will proceed down Hicks Street and end at Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks Street.
The SUNY board of trustees voted on March 19 to close LICH, a SUNY Downstate affiliate.
A state audit discovered that SUNY Downstate in East Flatbush is broke – and LICH supporters say that Downstate means to sell LICH’s valuable brownstone real estate to keep itself afloat.
Closing the 150-year-old LICH would cause a health crisis through a swath of booming Brooklyn neighborhoods from Red Hook to Williamsburg and Downtown Brooklyn, supporters say. A comprehensive study of the area’s health needs has yet to be carried out.
Red Hook residents rely primarily on LICH for healthcare; the neighborhood is designated a “Health Professional Shortage Area” by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
“Our community is now under siege from real estate over-development and this land grab is the latest and most pressing. The one million people who live, work, and recreate in Downtown Brooklyn are at risk,” said Roy Sloane, President of the Cobble Hill Association.
On April 1 the Cobble Hill Association announced the release of a television campaign, to play on NY1, aimed at convincing state officials to keep LICH’s doors open. The TV commercial titled “Two Minutes to Live” (see below) dramatizes with heart-pounding accuracy what will happen if LICH closes and ambulances are diverted to hospitals further away.
As the Brooklyn Eagle has previously reported, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes issued a temporary restraining order on Monday, April 1 that bars the New York State Department of Health from shutting LICH down until at least May 2.
“This temporary restraining order is another victory for Brooklyn patients who depend on LICH, and for nurses, caregivers, and doctors who are fighting to keep our hospital open for care,” said Jill Furillo, RN, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association.
But SUNY spokesperson David D. Doyle said SUNY was deeply disappointed. “SUNY Downstate is in a financial crisis and it is a race against the clock to save medical education, thousands of jobs, and high quality patient care in Brooklyn.”
The rally is sponsored by New York State Nurses Association, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, and the Concerned Physicians of LICH. Local community organizations participating include the Red Hook Initiative, the Cobble Hill Association, and the Carroll Gardens Association.
Elected leaders participating include State Assembly Members Joan Millman and Felix Ortiz, State Senator Eric Adams, Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Members Sara Gonzalez, Mathieu Eugene, Letitia James, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, James Brennan, and former City Council Member Sal Albanese.