LICH clings to life

Doctors: We have an antidote for Long Island College Hospital’s imminent demise
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Don’t write the obituary of Long Island College Hospital just yet.

Physicians and advocates of the 155-year-old hospital, which the State University of New York voted to close last Friday, are still fervently working to keep the institution alive.

“We’re saying, well, it’s not over until it’s over,” said Dr. Concha Mendoza, the hospital’s chief of geriatrics, who said she has patients calling her every day asking what they can do to help save the medical center.

Right now, medical workers are clinging to two hopes. Because any hospital closure first has to be approved by the state board of health, advocates are hoping that Albany will deem the institution too important to shut down because of the added strain it would place on other borough hospitals.

“We are very concerned about any closure or change without a concentrated effort on how health care will be re-aligned in Brooklyn,” said Claudia Caine, the hospital director at Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park. “Our community deserves it. Are the remaining hospitals, that are already strained, supposed to just take on thousands of new patients without support? Will there be financial support to expand our emergency room again?”

The second hope, as this paper reported last week, is that Long Island College Hospital doctors can secure a buyer to take the troubled institution off the State University’s hands – a bid that doctors say should be taken seriously, with at least two suitors in preliminary discussions.

“We are not at freedom to speak” about these discussions, Mendoza said, but “it’s a possibility.”

Over the past week, advocates have scheduled rallies, organized letter-writing campaigns to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Health, and raised money for legal expenses.

It may sound like weak medicine, but it’s these docs’ best hope for a cure after what they describe as a betrayal by the State University.

“The issue is the financial troubles of the SUNY system, and using the value of our land to help the SUNY system along,” Mendoza said. “That’s the major issue that needs to be addressed, and it’s a totally political issue.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.