SUNY officials refute rumors LICH closing imminent
by Andrew Pavia
Jul 19, 2013 | 2065 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UPDATE JULY 19 5 p.m.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio successful petitioned a judge for a temporary restraining order the block the closure of LICH.

UPDATE JULY 19 3:30 p.m.:

The State Department of Health approved parts of the plan to close Long Island College Hospital today. In a letter sent to President of SUNY Downstate, Dr. John Williams M.D. the DOH stated it would allow LICH to end its emergency department, begin discharging all patients and cancel procedures.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Dr. Williams:

In accordance with 10 NYCRR 401.3 (g), SUNY Downstate Medical Center (SUNY Downstate), submitted the closure plan for the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) on July 17, 2013. The New York State Department of Health (Department) has reviewed the closure plan, and approves the following actions:

• As expressly set forth in Section A (“Acute Care Inpatient Services”), on Page 7 of SUNY Downstate’s Closure Plan for LICH, LICH will “cease admitting patients from its Emergency Department (ED) at noon on July 22, 2013.” It is understood that LICH will continue to operate its ED with all supportive ancillary services, including laboratory, radiology, social work and pharmacy, until July 29, 2013.

• As expressly set forth in Section A (“Acute Care Inpatient Services”), on Page 7 of SUNY Downstate’s Closure Plan for LICH, LICH will transfer or discharge all remaining inpatients “on or before July 28th, 2013.” All patients will be discharged in accordance with applicable Federal and State requirements for discharge planning.

• As expressly set forth in Section C (“Surgical Services”), on Page 7 of SUNY Downstate’s Closure Plan for LICH, LICH will cancel its elective surgery schedule, “effective July 22, 2013”. All patients and their physicians will be notified of the cancellations so that procedures can be re-scheduled at other facilities.

SUNY Downstate may begin to take steps to implement the above approved actions. We will continue to work with you on the approval and implementation of the remainder of the closure plan. Should you have questions or require assistance, please contact Robert Welch, Deputy Director of the Division of Hospitals and Diagnostic and Treatment Centers at 518-402-1004. Sincerely,

Ruth Leslie

Director

Division of Hospitals and Diagnostic and Treatment Centers

A rally was held in front of the hospital with local elected officials, nurses, doctors and community members demanding DOH reverse their decision to allow SUNY to close LICH.

"By allowing SUNY to mothball LICH before a new operator is in place, DOH's decision undermines a long-term healthcare solution for the community and Brooklyn," said State Senator Daniel Squadron. "There are solutions for LICH, and significant interest from potential operators, but the state and SUNY have come together to undermine those, instead of working collaboratively to make them a reality."

Rumors were circulating this week that SUNY Downstate could close troubled Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill as early as this weekend.

However, a spokesperson for Downstate refuted the speculations.

“Patently false statements and rumors about the immediate closure of LICH obfuscate the truth, which is SUNY’s commitment to securing proposals to provide healthcare services in the community,” said a spokesperson for SUNY.

The concerns of immediate closure come after it was learned that elective surgeries will also be terminated at the facility, which Downstate says is losing roughly $15 million a month.

“As more critical staff voluntarily depart, additional measures are required, such as ambulance diversion and reduction of services,” the spokesperson said. “SUNY is not in violation of any court order whatsoever. “

The spokesperson said that patients are being transferred to other facilities at their own consent, bringing the total number of patients at the hospital to just 18. Elective surgeries are being rescheduled at different locations, and ambulances stopped dropping off patients weeks ago.

However, the hospital is not closing.

“While SUNY has made it clear that it will not continue to operate LICH, as is reflected in the state-approved sustainability plan for Downstate, the hospital is not closing this weekend,” said the spokesperson. “No hospital in New York State can close without the approval of the Department of Health.”

Not everyone was satisfied with that response.

“This community has been lied to,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “At the same time SUNY and the governor promised everything possible was being done to save LICH, they were preparing to sell it off to the highest bidder. SUNY is violating a court order to keep this hospital open and we won’t let it stand.”

De Blasio believes LICH will be sold to a real estate developer instead of a new owner that would continue to operate LICH as a health care facility. Last week, de Blasio and Councilman Stephen Levin were arrested for protesting the closure of the hospital, refusing to leave SUNY property.

“SUNY is not above the law,” said Levin. “If they attempt to shutter LICH this weekend, as reports show, they will be doing so illegally. The community will not allow it.”

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