Letter: LICH deal collapse ‘the best thing we could have hoped for’

To the editor,

The withdrawal of New York University-Langone from the Fortis Property Group bid to secure the Long Island College Hospital property has put the entire LICH property saga in turmoil. Rumors have circulated that other bidders in the last request for proposals have restated their interest in the LICH property. One of the options, surely the most transparent, is that the RFP be started anew. This immensely important decision will dramatically impact the lives, health and happiness of literally millions of Brooklynites for decades to come, and should not be rushed at this point. At stake immediately is the emergency medical care of 1.5 million Brooklynites that are now served by Brooklyn, Methodist, Lutheran and Maimonides hospitals, and previously also by LICH. All these hospitals’ emergency rooms are now under great stress and are failing, due to the closing of LICH.

It is important to understand that the “freestanding emergency room” that the NYU-Langone facility would have provided was in reality an urgent care center. To call it an emergency room was a hoax and a fraud on the community, the, court and the evaluators of the RFP.

The NYU-Langone facility would have had no general surgery, no ob-gyn surgery, no labor and delivery, no neonatal intensive care unit, and no specialty consultations in their “freestanding emergency room.”

It would have had no definitive care for heart attacks, strokes, life-threatening breathing emergencies like asthma, congestive heart failure, emphysema, or pneumonia. No definitive care for life-threatening diabetic crisis, renal failure, sepsis, etc. No definitive care for the nationwide epidemic of life-threatening enterovirus D68 infections in the pediatric population, which may require respirators to save children’s lives, or for life-threatening flu cases. It would have had no backup intensive-care units and no in-hospital beds for life-threatening pediatric, medical, ob-gyn, or general surgical cases.

This NYU-Langone hoax, the “freestanding emergency room,” is not what we need or want. Mount Sinai and Weill Cornell have opened similar non-emergency care facilities in the last year in the Downtown Brooklyn area. NYU-Langone walking away from Fortis is the best thing we could have hoped for. We now have the opportunity to resuscitate and revitalize Long Island College Hospital to a full service, acute-care hospital with a real, full-service emergency room, as it was just 15 months ago. And then to improve it to high excellence.

Jon Berall, Brooklyn Heights

The author is a former Long Island College Hospital emergency room physician and ombudsman who monitored the hospital for Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Johnny Lee Baynes.

More from Around New York