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SEIU 1199’s response to the State University of New York’s dire warnings: Lay off!

EXCLUSIVE: Layoffs threatened at LICH

State of dismay: One union says that the state did not need to go and threaten layoffs.
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Some 300 to 350 Long Island College hospital staffers are going to be handed pink slips soon, according to a union rep.

The State University of New York confirmed it is planning to lay off workers at the beleaguered hospital it spent a year trying to close and is now in the process of selling off, but said it has not finalized the details of when it will drop the ax or how many nurses and others will be affected. The state said that the culling has to happen because the medical center has loads of empty beds.

“There are currently over 1,400 employees on the payroll at a facility that serves a limited number of patients,” State University of New York spokesman David Doyle said.

Anti-hospital-closure activists have long contested the notion that the Cobble Hill medical center is over-staffed, pointing out that the number of patients was roughly on par with staffing levels before state managers moved to close the hospital and barred ambulances in July 2013.

Staffers received warning notices about the layoffs when community groups and unions reached a settlement with the state over a lawsuit aimed at halting the closure, a Service Employees International Union 1199 representative said. The state reopened bidding over the redevelopment of the hospital as part of the settlement, giving community and union reps some say in evaluating the proposals. The 1199 union chapter knew that the hospital could close in May if no buyer steps up to take it over, but said the cuts on the table are too much to take, one of its spokesmen said.

“We are hopeful that the new [bidding] process will ensure continuity and even enhancement of care for the community surrounding LICH,” said 1199 honcho Kevin Finnegan in a statement. “However, we are dismayed that SUNY has chosen to deliver layoff notices to so many workers.”

Officials from that union and the state would not say what specifically the warnings state or who would be affected. The New York State Nurses Association, which also represents Long Island College Hospital workers, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Cobble Hill Association member Jeff Strabone, an anti-closure activist, emphasized that there would have been even more layoffs if union attorneys had not fought tooth and nail against the state.

The development firm MedDev, which says it has represented healthcare clients including the State University of New York and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, is planning to make a pitch to overhaul the Cobble Hill medical facility.

Under the new bidding process, plans will be evaluated based on a point system that weighs medical services as two-thirds of the score and assesses the rest in terms of financial commitments. State reps will determine a majority of the score, but are not supposed to consult each other in the process, according to the terms of the settlement. A committee made up of Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D—Red Hook) and representatives of the nurses unions and community groups that sued the state will have less than half the say in scoring the medical category and none in scoring the financials.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
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Reader Feedback

Rick from Amity says:
How do you layoff all the staff at the same time you're asking new operators to come in & take over services? If there's almost no staff there, what could there possibly be to take over? Something smells rotten. Especially since SUNY & state reps have already done a lot of things at LICH that they were not supposed to do.
March 9, 2014, 12:58 am
1199employee from Queens says:
I've work at LICH for 6 years and just got a formal layoff notice dated April 12-25. It says it's not another warn notice or extension of the existing warn notice. It says I will not have a job by the end of next month. So thanks 1199. Thanks SUNY. And thanks Jeff strabon for just making hundreds of us collateral damage for your cause. Spoke to 1199 union delegate and he says more than 500 employees from 1199 will be gone end of next month.
March 9, 2014, 11:05 pm
Megan Riesz says:
1199employee, could you contact me — mriesz@cnglocal.com? Thanks.
March 10, 2014, 11:17 am
Geoff from Methodist says:
Some EXCLUSIVE-- this place is DOA, everyone knows that.
March 10, 2014, 11:26 am
so long LICH from Brooklyn says:
LICH is doing layoffs because LICH is closing down.

They are not trying to preserve the operating hospital environment to maintain the value as the place is worth less as a hospital than an alternative use. Nor do they have a responsibility to do so.

This is a failing hospital and as such is closing down. The sooner the better so we all can move on to something better whether it be another care facility or something other, as long as it isn't the failing LICH we have now.
March 11, 2014, 10:03 am
resident from Cobble Hill says:
Even IF a care facility were to take over, nobody wants it to be the size it was before.

At a minimum, all the unattached buildings and houses should return to private resident units.

What should remain is nothing more than what their Hicks St parking lot can handle for visitors, doctors and staff with a new bridge or underground tunnel crossing Hicks St. direct to the Hospital.

And the emergency room entrance should be moved from Amity St to Hicks St. or Atlantic Ave. so as to stop the negative impact of the ambulances on the local Cobble Hill community streets.

All access should be reworked limiting the institutional environment to Hicks St and Atlantic Ave as Cobble Hill should no longer be treated like the hospital's backyard.

Any new care facility should have to conform to new new code and perform an EIS.

WE WANT "O" IMPACT on the surrounding Cobble Hill residential community and must demand it from a new operator. This will be our only opportunity to fix the negative impact we've had to live with all these years.
March 11, 2014, 10:33 am
BalticStreeter from Cobble Hill says:
I have to wholeheartedly agree with this point: "At a minimum, all the unattached buildings and houses should return to private resident units."

There are brownstones, office buildings, all owned by the hospital that sit empty or are rarely used (113 Congress Street immediately comes to mind). How about a smaller medical center that still at least meets urgent care needs, with the adjacent buildings turned into either permanant affordable housing or properties for sale to current residents of the area? And NOT low-income but true middle and upper middle class housing. The city seems to have plenty of new buildings for families of four earning less than $40K but a single person making $50K is on their own.
March 11, 2014, 1:32 pm

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