Long Island College Hospital at death’s door

Hospital may be sold
Community Newspaper Group / Natalie Musumeci

The State University of New York Downstate Medical Center wants to pull the plug on Long Island College Hospital this week.

Downstate president Dr. John Williams told despondent docs on Monday that he would formally recommend euthanizing the Cobble Hill hospital at a board of trustees meeting this Thursday — and that the university board’s vote to close the institution would follow on Friday morning.

From there, the decision rests with New York’s State Health Department, which needs to determine whether those who currently rely on the hospital can get quality care elsewhere.

The vote comes weeks after an audit of Downstate by the state comptroller found that the hospital system currently loses $3 million a week, and that Long Island College Hospital was a big cause of these financial ailments.

But some community members say Downstate knew exactly what it was getting with the purchase of Long Island College Hospital — a property worth more dead than alive.

“They are using the sale of LICH to postpone dealing with their own financial issues,” said Roy Sloane, the president of neighborhood watchdogs Cobble Hill Association, who claims hospital bigs want to close the institution and sell off its valuable real estate.

“It seems like it was an expense that certainly should have been anticipated,” he said. “It certainly suggests that the folks at Downstate acquired LICH as a cash cow with the hopes of selling it.”

The institution’s property, building, and equipment are worth between $200 and $500 million, according to Downstate, which contributed the number to the comptroller’s audit.

The 155-year-old hospital is finally flatlining after years of turbulence, harking back to its previous owners Continuum Health Partners.

In 2008, Continuum threatened to close the hospital’s maternity, pediatrics, and dentistry practices to help the institution’s budget problems. Instead, the company fired 300 employees and sold several facilities. Downstate used $62 million in state grants to take over LICH in 2011.

Herdley Hill, a registered nurse in the hospital’s department of psychiatry, fears that most of the hospital’s 2,000 employees will lose their jobs if the board rubber stamps the plan on Thursday.

“There seems to be a rush right now to close this hospital,” Hill said. “We’re asking for more time.”

Williams will unveil his proposal to shutter the medical center at 1 pm Thursday in a State University board meeting that will be webcast. After that comes a 3 pm public forum that hospital staff predicts will be raucous.

Public meeting on the closure of Long Island College Hospital (33 W. 42nd St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Manhattan). Thursday at 3 pm. For a chance to speak, register online.

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