Paterson gives $40M to SUNY Downstate in advance of LICH takeover

More cutbacks at LICH
The Brooklyn Paper / Sebastian Kahnert

Gov. Paterson helped to bail out the financially struggling Long Island College Hospital on Thursday — granting millions to the state hospital that will take on substantial debt when it takes over LICH next year.

The merger between LICH and SUNY Downstate Medical Center — which still needs an expected approval from the state Health Department — got a little sweeter when Paterson approved SUNY’s application for the $40-million grant.

“This will enable SUNY to actually create a second campus of University Hospital of Brooklyn — right here at Long Island College Hospital,” Paterson said at the Hicks Street medical institution on Thursday afternoon.

It’ll also help curb the $170-million debt that SUNY will take on as part of the merger proposal, which supporters say will keep the 152-year-old LICH from going under.

The money, along with another $20-million grant that SUNY won earlier this year, is supposed to fund new services to the campus next year, put an end to layoffs, and end a tumultuous relationship between LICH and its managing company, Continuum Health Partners.

The impending merger and the new grant money are the first signs of LICH’s return from the bring. In 2008, the medical center was in such dire straits that it proposed closing its maternity, pediatrics and dentistry divisions. The hospital also fired and laid off some 300 employees and sold several buildings.