Today’s news:

Second opinion: State now admits LICH real estate was on the table

The Brooklyn Paper

They denied it for weeks, but State University of New York officials have finally admitted that real estate was on their mind while determining what to do with the struggling Long Island College Hospital, court filings reveal.

State officials justified their controversial move to make a public meeting private by confessing they were discussing the hospital’s $500-million property holdings in secret one day before announcing the plan to shutter LICH, according to legal documents.

As part of a court case between the state and neighbors fighting to keep the hospital open, university officials admitted that the Feb. 7 meeting addressed “actions to be taken with respect to the real property on which LICH sits” — thus making the forum legal thanks to a narrow exception in the open-meeting law.

Among other topics, attendees of the closed-door meeting talked about “the proposed sale of LICH realty title,” said one affidavit, filed by Lora Lefebvre, the university’s associate vice chancellor for health affairs.

That is quite a reversal.

“I know there are a lot of people out there who are saying that this is really a real estate deal,” Robert Bellafiore, a spokesman for the university’s hospital system, told The Brooklyn Paper just a few week’s back. “The fact of the matter is that zero consideration has been given to the real estate factor of it. It is so cart before the horse, it’s not even funny.”

“There is no plan whatsoever with respect to real estate,” H. Carl McCall, the university’s chairman, told the New York Times last month.

But just because the state was talking about real estate, that doesn’t mean real estate was a significant part of the discussion, according to Bellafiore.

“When the matter was raised in the course of the executive session discussion, it was acknowledged as something that was on the community’s mind but also was not a factor in the analysis regarding the closure of LICH,” he wrote in an e-mail.

The university had other reasons it could legally convene the meeting, too, the filings said — board members were talking about union members and layoffs, and they wanted to solicit legal advice from the university’s counsel.

Activists claim the secret meeting was illegal, alleging that the board used the closed-door forum to discuss shuttering LICH.

They won a temporary restraining order against the State University that keeps the hospital open pending further hearings — potentially delaying the target closure date of May 21.

State officials claim the lawsuit isn’t just baseless, but also dangerous.

“While petitioner unions seek delay to protect their members’ jobs, further delay in the closure of LICH will dangerously deplete SUNY funds, and risk serious patient safety issues,” said one legal memo, provided by the Attorney General.

“Unless LICH can begin the process of closing down, it will exhaust its available cash reserves within the next 45 days, which will adversely affect LICH’s ability to offer hospital services,” the filing continues.

But employees still working at the hospital claim the shutdown is a land grab, plain and simple.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the views,” said Lisa Goldschlag, a hospital nurse. “You can see the Statue of Liberty.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at jlutz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.

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Sajh from Brooklyn Heights says:
A hospital is needed in the area. Maybe not to the size that it is currently, but an emergency care facility is necessary for a number of reasons. Maybe only 1/3 of the size but being close to lower Manhattan which also lacks in hospital serves.. and the surrounding area that needs immediate access to such facilities, it makes sense strategically to give the land and buildings over to a developer on the contingency of building a hopspital portion on the lower floors. Thus the money made can support SUNY and the reduction and reshuffle of the size of the hospital can be remade so it is more sustainable.
March 14, 2013, 9:20 am
Gerry from Brooklyn Heights says:
Emergency rooms do not create enough revenue to sustain a hospital in fact the ER is a liability. Regretfully the well insured people of Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, etc. do NOT support LICH they avoid this place whenever possible and so it is going to close. If LICH made money it would stay open. A fast trip up the FDR Drive gets any Brooklyn Heights resident to NYU 34th Street and 1st ave they have an ER its less than 2 miles from Brooklyn Heights
March 14, 2013, 11:15 am
Not Gerry from Carroll Gardens says:
Wow, a short trip to NYU? I hope it isn't during a hurricane. Your beloved NYU may be closed. Short sighted cooment sir, but please stay in good health, EMS will not take you there. Fortunately for you though, Downstate will be available for your emergent needs. Gerry, your comment was extremely self centered and insulting to the mass of true brooklynites who may not be in your same financial situation.
March 14, 2013, 11:44 am
Sav from BH says:
Seriously NYU on 34st..that is good now think this way every person in Brooklyn will use NYU on 34st so you cut your finger..well you call ambulance, you brake leg, you call ambulance..you feel GI upset..or a toothache..well you have call ambulance..there will no walking into the ER anymore. How about chronic dialysis patients that come to the hospital 3 times a week, how about diabetic patients that come for management, how about the cancer patients that come for treatment and follow up..how about patients that do not have insurances..will NYU take those ?
March 14, 2013, 1:34 pm
Rich from Carroll Gardens says:
LICH is in the cross hairs for any developer with the financial backing and enough of the proverbial " strings " around their fingers clad in gold. A structure of this magnitude with a parking garage across the street that is facing the waterfront of downtown Manhattan that ISN'T a condo should be worried.
How do we know the place wasn't run into the ground purposely with every intention of converting to a much much more profitable scenario?
Who really is SUNY Downstate?
Make note of the board members and their affiliates that governs this transaction. There will be a link somewhere. It will be concealed quite well so in depth we may never truly know who makes the call.
Sad to say it will be a condo eventually. I have said this from the beginning. I have witnessed churches converted to condos all over my neighborhood. Hospitals are next.
Schools????......
Money talks...this blog walks......
March 14, 2013, 3:18 pm
William Spier from Brooklyn Heights says:
I am outraged that the chancellor of the State University would say that there “There is no plan whatsoever with respect to real estate,”....If fact, by just discussing the value of the real estate the citizenry can safely conclude that plans were in development since before they relieved Dr. LaRosa from his position as president, and then installed a hack like Williams.

The fact that a SUNY Chancellor would lie like this is unforgivable and scandalous. I don't expect the NYT to go after this since they just printed the hatchet job DiNapoli did on LaRosa at a news conference. The Brooklyn Paper might take this up.

This whole affair is uglier than anyone can imagine. I think it leads right up to the Governor's chair.
March 14, 2013, 6:17 pm
GerrySTUCKinTraffic from Boerum Hill says:
Gerry, you may be willing to risk your life,or that of a loved one, on your 'fast trip up the FDR Drive to NYU' but most argue against such a foolish move. Traffic, Bridge construction, notwithstanding EMS protocols are all against your flawed logic. I'm in the camp of supporting a teaching hospital with a long history of saving life's, allowing other excellent hospital systems an opportunity to explore acquisition, or other alternatives. You DO NOT speak for the community. Good luck on that fast trip up the FDR...
March 14, 2013, 8:38 pm
me says:
The hospital is full to capacity every single day. Capacity is the 250 beds it is staffed & equipped to operate, not the 500 beds it is licensed for. Its a 250 bed hospital & it functions at more than 90% occupancy daily. So thats about all it needs. Theres so much that Downstate can do to generate revenue from the rest of the space but they are doing nothing. Because they dont want it to generate revenue. They're sabotaging it to make their case for closure & aren't even billing the insurance companies for services or collecting payments just so they can say "its losing money". The place IS deliberately place being "run into the ground purposely with every intention of converting to a much much more profitable scenario". Downstate needs some quick cash because its other faclities are losing more than double the amount they say LICH is losing every month. They pretty much said in the paper that this community just has to give up its only hospital, sacrifice it, shut up about it & deal with it because Downstate is more important to Brooklyn.
March 14, 2013, 11:58 pm
Rich from Carroll Gardens says:
On another more statistical note, how is that an area as densely populated as Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens, in the eyes of the city afford to close the only hospital within striking distance in the event of an emergency ( FDR antics aside) rationalize the closure of such a necessary civil service? I know methodist is a stones throw away, but that is Park Slope. The residents of that area rely on that hospital. It does have a better reputation among locals, but it isn't as if there are a plethora of hospitals and we can afford to just close one. Especially one that is in such an affluent area. Brooklyn Heights is the crem de la crem of neighborhoods in this great borough and I cant help but think the city turns a blind eye to all this for the sake of development.
Hospitals, Schools, and civil services does not a city need???
Why are these things constantly in danger of closing?
How may firehouses have been closed?
How many schools are shuttered due to lack of improvements?
The list goes on and on....but this blog wont.
May as well be written in Sanskrit....
March 15, 2013, 12:02 pm
William Spier from BH says:
Rich,

You are correct. BH has the largest density of children for an area its size in the country. Other stats: Ratner's "city" might accommodate 30,000 new residents; DUMBO has grown tenfold in the last seven years; Cobble Hill's average age of occupant is 36 years--which means child bearing years.

When LICH is gone, are the folks who went to Lenox Hill to have their babies because of private suites and gourmet food (See NYT) going to tell the ambulance to take someone in their family to Lenox Hill?

No matter what happens, the cost of health care is everybody's business. It is the most complex and ultimately corrupt part of our economy--even more than the likes of Jamie Dimon's business. I for one don't believe that the majority of folks in these well insured neighborhoods understand,or care to understand, that the loss of a hospital is really a sign of decline; it is a symptom a city, state and country that puts off their most challenging issues. The threat to close LICH is a threat against the lives of this area.
March 15, 2013, 5:36 pm
allen says:
well said william. they also don't understand that even if they don't use their own neighborhood's hospital, they will still be affected by its loss by what happens to home & life insurance rates when the area they live in doesn't have a hospital. Even if they don't use it they should realize that they still have a stake in its existence if only for that reason.
March 16, 2013, 2:23 am
Bingo from Queens says:
Well , Gerry and rest of the people who thinks now wouldnt need LICH later at certain point in their life for emergency reasons , they can go to wherever hospital they want , it's everyone's choice to be saved and not be saved. Proximity matters when it comes to between life and death. The accident that happened months ago at the intersection of Hicks and Congress, where did they bring d patient ? Of course to LICH because it was the nearest hospital, they're not bringing the patient to NYU or even to Methodist hospital Gerry.
March 18, 2013, 3:41 pm
sharie says:
Doctors spend years
being trained and educated in their respective fields. However, doctors do make
mistakes so it is in the best interest of patients to get a second opinion. I used https://secondopinions.com when I felt an MRI I had done was
misdiagnosed. SecondOpinions.com provided me with a second opinion that turned
out to be detailed and accurate. I would have had several health problems if I
had not chosen to use SecondOpinions.com services. I recommend getting a second
opinion because it can potentially save your life.
Please watch this recently aired ABC News segment which addresses medical errors and emphasizes the importance of obtaining second opinions:
https://secondopinions.com/mediaroom/television-interviews.html
July 30, 2013, 11:05 am

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