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Long Island College Hospital activists want to impeach Governor Andrew Cuomo

Delay bells ring: State accountability hearing for LICH handling pushed back again

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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.”

Updated 1:11 pm, December 16, 2013: Clarity added. Photos added.
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

Patient Needs LICH from RH says:
Nobody has given up on fighting for LICH or demanding that those who violated the law be thrown in jail. Hopefully we will all see that justice done on January 21. In the meantime, Cuomo must be held responsible for what he has allowed to be done to the communities that depend on LICH. I feel sorry for the Dr who thinks LICH is a lost cause. His crystal ball has a crack in it. There were hundreds of people out in the cold to show that they are not letting LICH go. Cuomo can either come to his senses & listen or see his cronies found guilty of contempt next month. Do not underestimate the people of Brooklyn. Check out this op ed by another Dr for LICH on page 11 in Red Hook Star: http://issuu.com/georgefiala/docs/red_hook_star-revue_decembe_2013/10
Dec. 15, 2013, 6:58 pm
RN from Cobble Hill says:
This article is a mess & does not accurately portray what is going on over here. No one has backed off of fighting for LICH. No one has "softened their stance on imprisoning state employees". The slant the writer gives the story is really a joke. Pay attention Gov Cuomo #saveLICH or #jailSUNY & have this all come back to haunt you in the election campaign.
Dec. 15, 2013, 7:13 pm
-julie says:
The headline on this article is Wrong. No one has "given up" on saving LICH. In fact, LICH has already been saved. The fight now is to restore its services with a new responsible operator that is interested in providing those services to these communities.

Jaime Lutz has taken the doctors comments out of context and misquoted the nurses leadership as well, & I hope that wasn't intentional to add some sensationalism to the headline.

1. Dr Sorra also wrote: "The attorneys of Concerned Physicians, along with all of us, the Board members, continue to fight as LICH needs to be a full-service Hospital. The entire LICH family continues in the fight to not only keep LICH alive, but restore it to where it was - we are still all 'in it to win it'!"

2. NYSNA's Eliza Bates actually said "our goal remains as it always has been to find solutions to keep LICH open as a FULL SERVICE HOSPITAL in the long run."

Dec. 15, 2013, 7:38 pm
Louise Pelligrino from Red Hook says:
Andrew Cuomo-- and make no mistake, "credit" for this entire fiasco ends there-- is vile, amoral scum & and should be impeached, prosecuted, jailed. Mario was no great shakes either but at least the old man showed glimpses of better intentions.

Forget Democrats versus Republicans-- in New York, as in America, both are awful-- Andrew Cuomo is an embarrassment to humanity. If only he hadn't been so pathetic in Washington, maybe he'd still be there but alas...

Come back Elliott Spitzer, all is forgiven! (And even if it weren't, the fact he hates Cuomo is enough.)
Dec. 15, 2013, 9:30 pm
resident from Cobble Hill says:
RH should stop talking for CH(Cobble Hill). If you want this institution in the residential part of your neighborhood, then take it.

The truth is the many in Cobble Hill DON'T want LICH. And why would they? A residential neighborhood is not the place for a hospital. There is plenty of commercial and industrial land for a proper siting of a hospital and it's time to plan properly for one.

As for Cobble Hill, we've had it long enough and if it wants to go, then we roll out the Red Carpet for them - EXIT ONLY!

Anyone that wants the ambulance sirens, exausted parking and car alarms sounding, three shifts changes a day filling the streets with chatter and sergical debris, you can have it.

Let LICH pass away quietly. It's time has come.
Dec. 16, 2013, 11:08 am
Lisa from Cobble Hill says:
Instead of jail time, the sentence should be many hours of community service over several months at the LICH the ER. The offenders need to make amends with the people that they think are not important.
Dec. 17, 2013, 11:42 am
Resident2 from Cobble Hill says:
LICH has stood where it is for 155 yrs & has a magnificent, famous history making an impact on medicine in this country. It's the site of many medical firsts & was here before Cobble Hill was such a residential neighborhood. Most Cobble HIll residents are very proud of LICH & appreciate having such a high quality hospital in our neighborhood. We want it back. We want a new operator that will return LICH to its fullest potential. We want SUNY gone. Early this year, the Cobble Hill Assoc passed a resolution to fight for the life of our hospital & Cobble Hill residents have not wavered from that. We will not stop until our hospital is restored to the community. Anyone who doesn't want to live near a busy hospital should not move in to the streets around it because we are going to make sure that LICH is here to stay.
Dec. 18, 2013, 6:13 pm

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