Rally on Monday to get ‘seat at the table’
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Supporters of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) pushed their demands that the threatened Cobble Hill hospital be kept open and that the surrounding community have a say in its fate, at a press conference Monday morning.
“The people of this neighborhood love this hospital. They need it. They love and appreciate the people who work here. When the people are with you – you can move mountains,” said Public Advocate De Blasio. “We have to keep LICH open – and the way to do it is to bring the community in, every step of the way.”
Doctors, the New York State Nurses Association, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers and area representatives vowed to keep the pressure on SUNY and the state Department of Health to keep LICH open as a fully functioning hospital.
The nearly bankrupt SUNY Downstate, which operates LICH, issued a public Request for Information (RFI) on May 1 to signal its intent to find another operator.
The RFI calls for health care services either "on the [LICH] campus or in the community around" the hospital, leaving open the possibility that some or all of the valuable Brownstone Brooklyn real estate could be sold and health services cut back.
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Mayoral candidate and former Councilman Sal Albanese, and City Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene demanded that LICH remain a full service hospital and that doctors, nurses, workers, and community leaders have a seat at the table in decision making for LICH's survival.
Albanese has been calling for a moratorium on hospital closings since the possibility of closing LICH was first announced.
SUNY's plan to close LICH altogether was scuttled last month after months of protests, political and legal activism and media coverage. SUNY Downstate Medical Center acquired LICH two years ago from Continuum Health Partners.
SUNY says that parties interested in taking over LICH must submit, by May 22, a proposal providing details about clinical service areas, governance and ownership models, utilization projections, legal structures, regulatory timelines and approvals and financial plans. SUNY will answer questions from interested parties only until May 15.
LICH supporters say that because of its complexity and the lack of hard figures from SUNY, the RFI may have been designed to fail.
SUNY Downstate needs these projections in order to put together its own Sustainability Plan by June 1.