The state’s Long Island College Hospital redevelopment scheme shuts out developers who could keep it a full-service hospital, politicians and activists said at a rally on Wednesday.
About 60 picketers gathered despite the biting cold to shake their fists at the State University of New York, which said on Tuesday that no new healthcare providers would be allowed to enter the bidding process for taking over the Cobble Hill hospital. The protesters slammed the state for limiting its consideration to a handful of developer-hospital partnerships whose plans call for turning the beloved medical institution into a luxury apartment complex with a medical component.
“SUNY unilaterally cut off talks with the community in a ‘my way or the highway’ approach that is disingenuous to New Yorkers,” Public Advocate Letitia James said. “The community wants a full-service hospital and SUNY said no.”
James and other lawmakers, including Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill) and Councilman Brad Lander (D—Park Slope), did not offer any suggestions as to who should take over the beleaguered medical center, but argued that the state, which has been trying to shutter the hospital for a year now, should consider bidders who could maintain a full-service hospital — or at minimum, a 24-hour care facility with ambulance services.
“It’s like ‘Groundhog Day’ — the guy wakes up over and over again, and the same exact thing happens,” Lander said. “We know it’s time for SUNY to let go of Long Island College Hospital and we want to work together on a real solution.”
The New York University Langone Medical Center and developer Fortis Property Group have proposed a plan to tear down the hospital and build a condo complex with an urgent care center, dentist officers, and surgery facilities. Brooklyn Hospital also wants to morph the Cobble Hill medical hub into an apartment compound, only with a medical center that includes ambulatory care and an emergency department.
The state offered to hand the keys to the embattled medical center over to Mayor DeBlasio in December, but the city has not moved on the proposition, according to James.
“I know it was mentioned, but I have not seen anything concrete,” she said.
Since he took office, DeBlasio has not renewed the demand, voiced by his lawyer when he sued the city, to keep Long Island College Hospital a full-service hospital, but some activists said he needs them to push him in that direction.
“I think he wants us to do this,” said protester Brenda Pepper.
DeBlasio and Gov. Cuomo are begging the feds for a waiver that would allow them to spend $10 billion of Medicaid money, including $1 billion to prop up struggling hospitals including Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham