Yes they can — kick a decision on state accountability down the road again.
Judges and lawyers are delaying a decision on whether state officials are in contempt of court for their handling of Long Island College Hospital a third time, activists announced at a rally on Friday where they proclaimed anything that delays the medical center’s demise is a good thing.
“The goal is to keep the hospital open for as long as possible,” said New York State Nurses Association spokeswoman Eliza Bates.
The newest date for the contempt hearing is Jan. 21. If the state university, which has been trying to close the hospital since February, is found guilty of contempt, it could face fines or even, technically, jail time. The hearings stem from the state’s repeated moves to reduce service at the hospital despite court-issued mandates forbidding any such actions. The delay in a ruling on the issue also extends the order from Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes calling for service levels to remain where they were on July 19, when the state first diverted ambulances to begin closing the facility for good.
Anti-closure protesters are now calling to impeach Gov. Cuomo, who controls the state university’s board and has ultimate say over the hospital’s fate.
“Andrew Cuomo wants to run for president and we need to stop him,” said Jeff Strabone, a board member of the Cobble Hill Association civic group. “If he wants to shut down our hospital, we need to shut down his presidential ambitions.”
The rally came in the wake of a rumor that the university had drawn up a deal behind closed doors signing the hospital over to Citigroup, a global banking conglomerate. Jim Walden, a lawyer representing hospital staffers, sought to dispel the notion in an e-mail to activists, saying such a transfer would have to be approved by the judge who demanded the state give up control in a bombshell August ruling.
“Any deal to transfer the hospital will still require approval from Justice Carolyn Demarest,” Walden wrote. “So, no matter what, the case has to go back to court.”
Despite the tough talk on display at the demonstration, one anti-closure stalwart said that the fight to save the historic hospital is a lost cause because the real action is happening in smoke-filled rooms.
“In a nutshell — unfortunately — I think LICH is ‘history,’ ” wrote Dr. Toomas M. Sorra in a blog post for the activist organization Concerned Physicians of Long Island College Hospital. “We have fought the fight for the past year, and done it well — nevertheless, I believe that the finance guys, the politics, and the real estate interests have won out over the needs of the people of Downtown Brooklyn.”
©2013 Community News Group
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