Dead air! We pester Gov. Cuomo to explain his LICH game plan

Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo announced a $25 million settlement the state reached with ExxonMobil to ensure the company cleans up a massive oil spill that has contaminated Greenpoint for decades.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

A chorus of voices are trying to have a say in the fate of Long Island College Hospital, but despite his control over the means to save or bury it, Gov. Cuomo’s is not among them.

The state’s executive appoints 15 of the 18 members of the state university’s board of trustees, which has been trying to close the Cobble Hill hospital since February of 2013. But the only time he has spoken directly about the embattled institution that his charges claimed was hemorrhaging $13 million a year was when he spoke to WNYC host Brian Lehrer about where the state was going to spend a $8 billion in Medicaid cash freed up by the federal government in February.

“[The Long Island College Hospital bidding process] is not directly connected to this Medicaid waiver situation,” he said when asked by Lehrer how the cash infusion might affect the hospital, explaining that the state’s attempt to sell off the land valued at as much as $500 million made the hospital atop it ineligible for aid.

Cuomo’s silence is not for lack of interest in what he has to say about the fate of the 156-year-old medical center. Activists have for 15 months demanded an explanation for the closure of 506-bed facility and reporters for this paper have regularly asked for the same, if more politely.

But Cuomo, apparently not eager to wade into the political morass that he has the power to take decisive action on, has not responded outside of his single sentence to Lehrer, which he followed with a general explanation of why the general hospital system needs to be done away with in favor of a clinic-based model.

That is why, starting on May 15, reporter Max Jaeger started calling, e-mailing, tweeting at, and sending faxes to the governor in some combination every day, asking what the governor’s plan is and whether he will step in to prop the hospital up so that the future of the neighborhood’s medical service can be secured. We will let you know when we hear something back.

Nathan Tempey is a Deputy Editor at the Community Newspaper Group. Reach him at ntempey@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4504. Follow him at twitter.com/nathantempey.

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