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Nurses: LICH will be closed by Sunday

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Long Island College Hospital will be closed and padlocked by Sunday on orders of state officials who care little for the health and well-being of Brooklynites in the midst of an excruciating heat wave, claim hospital workers.

Employees at the 155-year-old Cobble Hill institution claim that management at the State University of New York has been transferring patients out of the hospital, effectively closing it, and told them to clean out their lockers.

“By Sunday, the hospital will not have any patients in it, so for all intents and purposes the hospital will be closed,” said Jill Furillo, the head of the New York State Nurses Association who adding the timing of the closure couldn’t be worse. “This is the worst heat wave that the borough has had in the last 20 years and they are transferring patients out. It’s unconscionable.”

As of Thursday, there were only 18 patients left in the hospital according to state officials.

The scene outside was dramatic, as crowds of staff, along with Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) and mayoral hopeful Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio (D) gathered to demand that the medical center not be closed, accusing the state of plotting to sell the extremely valuable property it sits on to developers, to be turned into luxury housing.

“Save LICH!” they chanted. “No more condos for the rich!”

State officials have denied that the hospital will be closed before Monday.

“I think there is intentional misinformation being put out there in an effort to make a scene,” said Robert Bellafiore, a spokesman for the state university, who said that the hospital is not closing — just removing patients who consent to be transferred.

Still, rumors spread rapidly. After being told by supervisors that the hospital would be closing, then by the state that this was a lie, doctors and nurses weren’t sure what to believe — and some wondered if it was all a game being played by the state to force workers to quit their jobs and find a more secure place to work.

“I think they want us to leave and close the hospital for them,” said Dr. Alice Garner. “It’s emotional warfare.”

Many wondered if they would still have a job next week.

But Bellafiore said that the state needed to go through a union process to fire hospital employees, and that any news of layoffs was “nonsense.”

He added that the emergency room would stay open to walk-in patients.

The state has been trying to close Long Island College Hospital for the past six months. During that time, hospital workers won a temporary restraining order against the state to keep it open — only to have a judge rule the state defied that restraining order by diverting ambulances away from the hospital. The state will appear in a contempt of court hearing next week.

The State Department of Health, which has the final say on an “official” hospital closure, received the state’s closure plan and it is now under review, according to spokesman Jeffrey Hammond.

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

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Reader Feedback

David Brown from LES says:
The question is why are we at this point? The reasons are 1: The demands of politicians, bureaucrats and pressure groups that Hospitals accept every Tom, Dick and Harry regardless of their ability to pay. 2: Government taking forever to reimburse Hospitals for Medicaid and Medicare patients. 3: The same groups demanding every kind of Service known to mankind, be offered (even if not needed). 4: Increased immigration which strains services for people already here. 5: Not allowing Hospitals to make a decent profit (we saw the same thing with St Vincent's in Lower Manhattan). 6: Lawsuits which . 7: The Obama Care Plan, that is so poorly thought out and unpopular, Obama himself wants to defer it for a year or more. 8: All of the above (like in this case). I wish the people who put so much effort into keeping this Zombie Hospital open, will do as much to make sure it does not happen again.
July 19, 2013, 7:18 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
David from LES you don't know what you are talking about. The State has a special fund to pay for uncompensated care that has millions of dollars in it. The primary problem with LICH is it bet wrong on inpatient care vs out patient care..and that happen under Harold Light 20 years ago. Its not lawsuits either. Its not Obamacare. The only thing being deferred is for one year the mandate to buy insurance is being postponed.primarily because the states have been recalcitrant in setting up the exchanges. In the end both the Governor and Department of Health could save it if they wanted. Money is there. But they know that the number of beds needed has been drastically reduced. and finally immigration over the last ten years has drastically been reduced, a just society takes care of all and hospitals that are tax exempt has a special duty to all as well.
July 19, 2013, 8:33 am
BunnynSunny from The Hill says:
It's going to be a long hot summer.
July 19, 2013, 10:21 am
judahspechal from bedstuy says:
Very sad! My child was born there. Can't they just sell the parking structure across the street for condo/rentals Development and get some relief?

Hopeful this will spur growth of large scale Community Health Clinics that are part of Obama-care.

Pro/Con Real Estate once against prevailed. Condos in BBP & the Park play a small part also, it links the neighborhoods more seamlessly w/o busy hospital traffic. That gas station will probably be soon gone.

Maybe with luck, we can see the Park over the Expression way really happened.
July 19, 2013, 1:25 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
The parking structure across the street was an exchange for park land that comes with deed restrictions that can't be changed. Good luck getting that changed with the arrest of legislatures from both the Assembly and Senate
July 20, 2013, 1:36 pm
Eddie from Cobble Hill says:
Why would a developer worry about deeds for parks, the City, Community and LICH already has three within their real estate holdings. Oh yes lets not forget to thank the Continuium for there part in this. I dont see Beth Isreal, St. Luke's etc. hurting.
July 21, 2013, 3:33 am
Narcisist from Bay Ridge says:
This hospital has been on borrowed time since they sold to Continuum. It's funny how they escaped blame by sliding out the back door. They sold off as much property as possible while using the funds to build their hospitals. SUNY just put the nails in the coffin.

The entire hospital has been mismanaged for about 20 years. It's a travesty that something like this can happen.
July 22, 2013, 10:49 am
Narcisist from Bay Ridge says:
This hospital has been on borrowed time since they sold to Continuum. It's funny how they escaped blame by sliding out the back door. They sold off as much property as possible while using the funds to build their hospitals. SUNY just put the nails in the coffin.

The entire hospital has been mismanaged for about 20 years. It's a travesty that something like this can happen.
July 22, 2013, 10:49 am

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