Fight for LICH continues for local residents
by Andrew Pavia
May 07, 2013 | 1513 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Although SUNY Downstate announced it would withdraw its proposal to close Long Island College Hospital (LICH), residents still feel like they are being left in the dark as to the future of the health care facility.

The Cobble Hill Association (CHA) hosted a meeting last week at LICH to discuss plans to ensure that Downstate follow through on its promise to seek a buyer for the financially troubled hospital.

Downstate recently issued a public Request for Information (RFI) for potential buyers.

“You have two weeks to submit questions and the deadline to responding to the RFI is one week,” said CHA member Jeff Strabone at the meeting. “I don’t know how long it takes them to answer questions.”

The deadline for responding to the RFI is May 22.

Strabone said that the worst-case scenario is that the process to find a new owner is deliberately “designed to fail.” He said SUNY might be trying to appease the public into thinking it is trying to find a buyer, when in reality they are just attempting to stall.

Assemblywoman Joan Millman also attended the meeting and said she sat down with representatives from SUNY earlier that day to discuss the future of LICH.

“Basically what came out of that meeting makes me somewhat optimistic,” she said. “They seemed not only willing to involve the elected officials, but also community groups, and I haven’t heard that before.”

Some discussion was had about hiring a consultant who understands the buying and selling of hospitals to represent the community.

“We don’t think this is the solution, because if you’ve looked at the RFI that was released yesterday, it doesn’t clearly state that we want a full-service, acute-care hospital,” said Dr. Thomas Sorra, president of Concerned Physicians of LICH. “We will show that LICH is a viable hospital, a viable organization and it’s going to work regardless of whether Downstate works.”

On Monday morning, representatives from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East rallied in front of LICH demanding to be a part of the process.

“We believe that this victory is historic given what has been going on in Brooklyn for the past few years,” said Jill Furillo, making reference to a recent report that found the health care system in the borough is failing. “Today, we propose to SUNY that we have a LICH stakeholders committee that is part of the process of figuring out what the sustainability plan is going to be.”

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, mayoral hopeful and former city councilman Sal Albanese, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also spoke at the rally about the need for community involvement.

“We have to keep LICH open for the long haul,” said de Blasio. “The way to do it is by bringing the community into every step of the process.”

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