An offer Methodist can refuse: Take over LICH

Metho-discuss: Hospital unveils design tweaks ahead of Round 2 at community board
New York Methodist Hospital

New York Methodist Hospital would be the perfect high-powered medical provider to take over beleaguered Long Island College Hospital, say activists who want to stop the Park Slope facility’s expansion plan in its tracks.

If Methodist has enough cash to build an eight-story out-patient clinic, it has enough to acquire the Cobble Hill medical center that will close in May if it does not find a good enough bidder, according to the activist group Preserve Park Slope, which has long campaigned against Methodist’s proposed out-patient center that it says would wreck the neighborhood with bumper-to-bumper traffic. The Park Slope agitators hailed the historic agreement to end the lawsuit brought by unions and activists to stop the closure of Long Island College Hospital and reopen bidding around its redevelopment and said it is the perfect chance for Methodist to switch gears.

“We believe that the settlement reached on Thursday by SUNY and advocates for LICH provides a wonderful opportunity for New York Methodist Hospital to take a leadership role in addressing Brooklyn’s healthcare crisis,” the group said in a statement last Friday. “Combining the strengths of these two institutions could hold the key to providing more cost-effective and expanded health care services for the entire borough.”

A Methodist rep pointed us to a Frequently Asked Questions section on the hospital’s website when asked about the pitch. That document states that renovating the Cobble Hill center from in-patient to out-patient use would be “prohibitively expensive,” and notes that Methodist already has out-patient facilities in almost every Brooklyn neighborhood. The response also claims that part of the hospital’s success has been due to focusing on the needs of a single institution.

But executives readily admit the hospital is far from struggling.

“We’re not going to apologize for the fact that we’ve been very, very successful,” hospital head Lauren Yedvab said at a city hearing earlier this month.

A Long Island College Hospital advocate argued that the price of buying the 155-year-old Cobble Hill institution would be relatively low in comparison to building the eight-story, U-shaped complex, which would wrap around three blocks that are currently home to century-old townhouses.

“From an economics point of view, it would seem to make sense for Methodist to bid on LICH or partner with someone,” said Jeff Strabone, a board member of the Cobble Hill Association, adding that the move would prevent the congestion Slope activists dread.

Nevertheless, Methodist says abandoning its hot-button building bid and taking over Long Island College Hospital is extremely unlikely.

Methodist is seeking a zoning variance for its center, which will include a surgery center, a cancer center, radiology services, and a host of other services. It has pledged to build a zoning-adhering taller, narrower complex if denied.

Methodist is part of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System that also includes The Brooklyn Hospital Center. That hospital has submitted a Long Island College Hospital takeover bid.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
On the brink: The state says no amount of protests can keep Long Island College Hospital from closing on May 22, unless someone else steps up to run it.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham
Photo by Elizabeth Graham