It was the world’s most somber race.
Mourning the likely loss of Long Island College Hospital, nurses with the New York State Nurses Association raced from Red Hook to emergency rooms across the borough by bus and car last week, attempting to prove that the Cobble Hill hospital is by far the most accessible of the bunch.
The race kicked off at 5 pm on Tuesday at Coffey Park, from the corner of Richards and Verona Streets. The winner was the team racing to Long Island College Hospital by car, which arrived at the medical center in 19 minutes to find an empty waiting room — and this was with a subpar route, according to a nurse spokesman.
“This team’s route, up Hicks Street, was widely criticized by spectators,” said Dan Lutz, a New York State Nurses Association spokesman who has no relation to this reporter. “One group hopped in their car and got to LICH in 14 minutes, despite heavy traffic. [But that] team cannot be declared the winner because they did not start with the rest of the group.”
Second place went to the team driving to Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene. The trip took 24 minutes, but racers were greeted with an emergency room that had 25 people ahead of them.
Third and fourth place went to the team driving and bussing, respectively, to Park Slope’s New York Methodist Hospital. Drivers took 30 minutes; passengers on the bus took 33 minutes.
Lutz and Councilman Brad Lander served as the race officiators.
The state has been diverting ambulances from Long Island College Hospital since June 20, in a possible violation of a temporary restraining order. However, walk-in patients are still accepted at the emergency room, for now.On Friday, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ruled that the state must restore hospital service to its July 19 level, an acknowledgment that the state has violated court orders mandating that it maintain that degree of service, though the judge refrained from ruling on that issue. Check back Monday for more on that court decision and what it means for the future of the beleaguered medical center.
Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at email@example.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.