Medic! Long Island College Hospital again facing death

More cutbacks at LICH
The Brooklyn Paper / Sebastian Kahnert

Long Island College Hospital is a terminal patient — again — after Gov. Cuomo announced more healthcare cuts, including millions in grants that were slated to save the Cobble Hill hospital.

Former Gov. Paterson helped to bail out LICH last October by approving $62 million in grants to offset some of the hospital’s $170-million debt and enable a merger with SUNY Downstate in Crown Heights.

But the state Department of Health announced on Thursday that it would delay the grant — and the president of the company that owns LICH responded by telling employees that he’ll file for bankruptcy as early as March if the grants were still withheld.

Workers at the Hicks Street medical facility are divided on whether Continuum Health Partners President Stanley Brezenoff was just bluffing — but all of them are miffed.

“I think this spells demise for LICH — but I’m also not surprised,” said the former president of the medical staff, Dr. Arnold Licht. “The biggest villain behind this is Continuum. It’s suspicious that Brezenoff is waving this threat in our faces when [Continuum] stands to make a lot of money by filing for bankruptcy and [selling the LICH properties].”

Continuum officials stated in a press release that they want to proceed with the merger — which they said would “save close to 2,500 jobs” — but warned that closure is “imminent” if the grants don’t come through.

Elected officials who wooed Paterson last year are already grabbing their torches and pitchforks — and flipping through Rolodexes to save the bailout.

“The deal to save Long Island College Hospital was a huge win for our community, Brooklyn and the state,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) who joined Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Cobble Hill) and Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill) in shouting in Cuomo’s ear.

“Simply put, [the merger] must move forward. LICH has helped keep Brooklyn healthy for more than 150 years, and it must not be forced to close,” Squadron added.

The Cuomo administration hasn’t commented on the grants.

The merger with SUNY Downstate was seen as LICH’s last glimmer of hope. In 2008, its budget was so bad that it proposed closing its maternity, pediatrics and dentistry divisions. The hospital also fired and laid off about 300 employees and has sold several buildings.