Back-to-court season: Nurses fight for spot in LICH vestige • Brooklyn Paper

Back-to-court season: Nurses fight for spot in LICH vestige

Emptied out: A guard during the last few hours of Long Island College Hospital's existence on May 22.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Former staffers of shuttered Long Island College Hospital have taken the state back to court — and temporarily halted the sale of the valuable medical campus — saying they aren’t getting promised jobs in a remaining freestanding emergency department.

A judge pressed pause on the complicated sale on Wednesday after staffers unions sued, saying new-owners-to-be New York University Langone Medical Center and Lutheran Healthcare have violated a court settlement regarding the sale. Maintaining medical services at the Cobble Hill site was a main feature of the agreement that ended a lawsuit by activists and workers seeking to stop the closure of the hospital so it could be sold to a residential developer. A lawyer for the New York State Nurses Association says the transition has ignored the rehiring that is a key component of the package deal, and of the redevelopment proposal that won out in a settlement-mandated process.

“Those entities have aggressively and blatantly walked away from a core material component of their bid — the hiring of current Long Island College Hospital registered nurses,” wrote lawyer Richard Seltzer in court filings.

New York University Langone Medical Center was set to take over the emergency center on Monday, but the judge’s order pushes that back until the hiring issue is settled. A rep for the Manhattan hospital denied wrongdoing, saying it has been recruiting former Long Island College Hospital staffers as it is supposed to.

“We have been interviewing and hiring qualified nurses and staff — a number of whom work for or previously worked for LICH to fully staff this facility,” a spokeswoman said. “We strongly disagree with NYSNA’s allegations.”

Developer Fortis Property Group specifically promised to seek out union help in staffing the operation.

“This will help maximize the number of NYSNA nurses continuing to work at LICH and thereby help preserve the legacy of excellent care provided at LICH,” it wrote in its redevelopment proposal.

A spokeswoman for the union said only one Long Island College Hospital nurse has been hired and affidavits filed by a number of nurses state that they have not been informed of any future job opportunities.

The state has agreed to continue operating the healthcare center until the handoff is okayed. Beyond that, a spokesman would only say that negotiations are ongoing.

“SUNY has always been committed to ensuring a smooth transition to the new healthcare operators at the LICH site and will continue to maintain current patient services,” said State University of New York spokesman David Doyle.

Fortis declined to comment on the lawsuit. Its $240 million dollar bid got the stamp of approval on July 1.

The deal for the former hospital site is a residential development — the details of which have still not been made public — with some medical services provided by New York University Langone Medical Center and Lutheran Healthcare. Services at the complex will include a freestanding emergency department, observation beds, primary and preventative care offices, nine specialty departments, an ambulatory surgery center, and a human immunodeficiency virus clinic, according to the developer.

Activists who opposed the closure of the 156-year-old hospital argue an emergency room with no attached hospital is little more than a glorified walk-in clinic. Fortis Property Group and New York University have refused to outline what treatment is and will be available at the emergency center, but it currently does not admit patients overnight and ambulances will not take people there. The passenger in a car wreck that occurred within spitting distance of the hobbled hospital in June was instead taken to Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park. A man who got jumped by three goons on Smith Street in July had his face stitched up at the emergency facility, though it is unclear how he was transported.

The latest lawsuit against the state adds a chip to the “Someone sues the state” square of the LICHO board, which we created back in June to help readers follow along with the convoluted redevelopment saga at home.

A hearing on the staffing fight is set for Sept. 12.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.

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