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SUNY is lying about rationale behind the ban, they say

State restores ambulances to LICH, but staffers ask, ‘Why did they ban them in the first place?’

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Ambulances returned to Long Island College Hospital at 4 pm on Friday after being banished for two days, according to the fire department, which dispatches emergency vehicles, but hospital staffers aren’t forgiving the state just yet.

The State University of New York ordered an ambulance ban at the beleaguered Cobble Hill institution on Wednesday, claiming that the place is short on specialist doctors, but workers there say that is nonsense.

“That’s just a red herring,” said Susan Shanahan, a staff medical and surgical nurse. “It’s once again just some BS claim that they’re making when in reality not much has changed in the last few months with regard to staffing.”

The state, which manages the hospital and has been trying to close it since February, was already facing a contempt of court hearing on Nov. 18 for exactly this kind of move when it barred emergency vehicles again on Nov. 6. The contempt hearing stems from a court order by Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes that demands the university restore services to the levels they were at on July 19, when the state first diverted ambulances as part of a move to close the medical facility for good. Since then, the state has placed 650 hospital staffers on paid administrative leave, stopped surgeries, and, at one point, surrounded the hospital with security guards, moves hospital advocates say are all clearly illegal.

A ruling against the state could result in fines or, technically, jail time for state officials.Despite the mandate, officials say that staffing levels at the hospital left them with no choice but to stop admitting ambulances and new patients.

“It was the medical judgment of the doctors responsible for patient safety and wellbeing that it was not safe to accept ambulances,” state spokesman David Doyle said. “Additional resources were brought in as quickly as possible to remedy the situation.”

Doyle refused to say how the number of doctors on duty became dangerously low on the state’s watch.

Patients can now be admitted through the emergency room again, but the health care center still is not accepting sick people who require more than basic life support, as has been its policy for months since the state removed medical residents. Ambulances carrying patients requiring more serious life support are being diverted to other hospitals, such as New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope.

The state’s previous court-order-defying ambulance diversions have lasted weeks, not days, and Shanahan says she knows why.

“The fear on their part of the upcoming contempt hearing was the reason,” she said.

The hospital has accepted many new patients since its lowest service level in late July, when as few as 10 patients had beds there. Now, about 30 patients are staying on the fifth floor, where Shanahan works, according to her. The state would not provide the total number of inpatients.

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

Nick from Cobble Hill says:
SUNY Trustees secretly met in Albany Wednesday. They directed the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to order the ER to halt admissions, and threw them under the bus with respect to Diversion. As a physician, the CMO knew the ER could not accept
ambulances under this condition. He forced them to make the decision, to avoid further contempt charges. This is deplorable behavior and shows the character of SUNY. If SUNY divulged the details of what they are demanding of any potential new operator of LICH it would reveal they are sabotaging the process. Shame on them.
Nov. 9, 2013, 6:45 pm
Seen Enough from in Cobble Hill says:
Looks to me like they're just daring the judge to cuff 'em. Probably don't believe he'll really do it. Probably think there will be no consequences at all to them for their despicable illegal & dangerous actions putting people's lives at risk all these months.
Nov. 9, 2013, 7:14 pm
Henry Hicks from Cobble Hill says:
It was the first step to closing the hospital in a back end run around the law. SUNY was trying to get LICH to empty again by stopping patient from coming into the hospital. Then when there' was very few services & very few patients, they were going to get the place closed claiming no one was using it, there was no benefit from it & the expense didn't justify keeping the place open. Just like the tried to do in the summer. But their sabotage effort failed again because the coalition to save LICH is not playing games. Now they can send back the doctors they pulled out of LICH & sent to other SUNY schools as part of their effort to choke LICH to death.
Nov. 10, 2013, 12:17 pm
Warren N says:
So many people were walking in & being brought into LICH that it was being proven that Brooklyn Needs LICH. The People kept coming - even with all the chaos going on in the newspapers about LICH, the people who depend on it still kept coming to LICH. SUNY freaked out & shut the doors to keep the hospital empty. It's easier to get an empty hospital closed than it is a full one. But before SUNY started blocking doctors and patients, LICH was more than 90% full to capacity every single day. Open those doors & this hospital will be filled in a week. Cuuf 'em: SUNY Dr Luccesi & friends
Nov. 10, 2013, 4:15 pm
Dr. Benway from Brooklyn Heights says:
Let's be 1000% clear, however: the character of SUNY = the character of Andrew Cuono, a vile, venal, bitter hack of a man who washed out in Washington and is on course to make Pataki and Paterson seem cuddly. As for Eliot Spitzer, whatever his myriad flaws, at least he despises Cuomo-- as ** EVERYONE ** should, for many reasons.

Let's see if DeBlasio has any balls comes January 1 or if he's just another cheap suit, happy to take the same $$$ as Cuomo and the rest.
Nov. 10, 2013, 6:27 pm
Cacao from Brooklyn says:
Where is the LICH money? The SUNY take over was just a smoke screen for Continum Health Partners and friends to run it into the ground.
Their most resent land grab / acquisition is Mount Sinai Hospital. All that prime 5th avenue property over looking Central Park. I can see the views now. That campus will be consolidating and slowly sold off next.
Look at the old Doctors Hospital aka Beth Isreal North. Now luxury condo over looking the East River.
Nov. 10, 2013, 9:05 pm
jeanwheels from Bay Ridge says:
I have been seeing my doc at LICH during this frustrating time. I have to call first and see if he's still there. It is unsettling for patients and doctors. I like my doc and don't want to have to change docs. He is a gem, but he gets notices that he can't continue to work there after a certain date. Then the date passes and he gets a reprieve.
Nov. 11, 2013, 12:33 pm
Jill from Boerum Hill says:
As a Contempt of Court hearing is a week away at the NYS Supreme Court, SUNY administrators (not their three law firms) should be forced to appear before Justice Baynes and explain their actions. They should be criminally charged and put through Brooklyn Central Booking, a facility that has relied heavily over the years on LICH to provide health care to prisoners and Court staff alike. How ironic would that be? Also recall that the SUNY Board of Trustees erupted in applause after they voted to close LICH, falsely believing the $500M in real estate would save them from their gross miamagent of Downstate and buy them a brand new hospital in Central Brooklyn... across the street from a recently renovated HHC Hospital (Kings County).
Every Emergency Room patient treated at Brooklyn Hospital and Methodist Hosptal's ER during the two illegal LICH diversions should class action sue SUNY for unnecessary pain and suffering.
Nov. 12, 2013, 1:20 am

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