Long Island College Hospital’s staff and supporters mobilize to save it

LICH clings to life

The Brooklyn Paper
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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 or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 5:40 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

cobble hill from neighbor says:
At the packed Kane St Synagogue community meeting thursday night, I thnk it was Assemblywoman Joan Millman who informed us that "we were snookered" by SUNY & Downstate Center wants to close LICH so that it can take the money from its real estate to build a new hospital in Flatbush to replace its old one there. It just doesn't seem right to take this community's assets away from here & spend them on something for another community while we get left with no hospital at all. If think they can take $500 million out of this community & toss us a walk-in clinic to shut us up they got another think coming. The people are demanding a full-service hospital, not an er or clinic, & if Downstate can't afford to provide that, they need to let the doctors and another hospital system take over. SUNY LIARS, GO BACK TO FLATBUSH.
Feb. 17, 2013, 3:58 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
After attending a massive SUNY university center, I quickly learned that the entire entity is a bloated puppet controlled by the whims of the sycophantic beneficiaries of nepotistic influence. If they can twist anything to put more money in their own pockets without making too many waves, they will. They'll develop that spot into condos for their own monied interests and their rosters of favor owners who will call them in for their kids so they can beat the hardship of the housing markets. All the while the real residents who's pockets they've been siphoning all along will have no place to go in emergencies, and be forced to live in a construction zone while eyesores are build which bring the true residents no benefit what so ever.
Feb. 17, 2013, 4:14 pm
KS from red hook says:
Downstate Medical Center wants to concentrate on the medical school & says it doesn't need to be in the business of running a hospital. Ok that's fine. But the residents of this community need their hospital. The best way to meet the needs of both is to let Downstate hand LICH over to another hospital. Downstate gets to focus on its school and the community gets to keep its vital hospital. It's a no-brainer & doesn't take King Solomon to figure out the solution here.
Feb. 18, 2013, 12:04 pm
me from here says:
the point is SUNY doesn't give a damn about the people or the community. if they cared about that, they would be looking for another hospital to take lich off their hands instead of just closing the whole thing down & leaving hundreds of thousands of peole with no hospital. this cannot be allowed. when did G-D appoint SUNY to take his place?
Feb. 18, 2013, 3:28 pm
Resident from Cobble Hill says:
I don't think there is any doubt that SUNY Downstate wants to sell the real estate. That's the whole motive behind this. I also believe that that's been their plan all along. Although there is no way to prove it. I also wouldn't be surprised if the deal to sell the real estate was already in place. Great plan if you ask me cuz you get taxpayers money to buy LICH, then make a profit on that deal and build a better hospital for Downstate that way.

How else do you explain their hurry to shut it down? If they find it financially not worth their while surely they can look into selling it?
Feb. 18, 2013, 6 pm
Not Again from Prospect Heights says:
I heard that the notorious Bruce Ratner is behind the closing. His vision to make a South St. Seaport in Brooklyn, that he would, of course, own, is what is driving the closing of this crucially important hospital.

It's true that a ruthless villian-aire would not care that LICH is needed now, more than ever for two reasons:

1 Hurricaine Sandy left some hospitals disabled, putting pressure on existing ones nearby, and;

2. THERE ARE MORE FREAKING BUILDINGS AND MORE FREAKING PEOPLE IN BROOKLYN thanks to rezoning, and to what Ratner does worst: High density real estate development.

Did SUNY Downstate purposely mismanage LICH so it could be sold at cut rate to the real estate barons? The FBI is currently investigating the former administrator of St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan's West Village for just that.

This hospital must be saved from the sociopathic real estate kings. It's Kings county, sure, but we don't need these kind of fool kings overloading our hospitals by closing the ones that happen to have good views.

Rich so-and-so's can helicopter to Manhattan or jet to Switzerland for their medical care. These vampires do not care about the actual living people who have a pulse. And a heart.
Feb. 18, 2013, 7:44 pm
Resident from Boerum Hill says:
At this point, Governor Cuomo should show leadership. If Downstate cannot manage LICH, then he should find other alternatives that will keep the full hospital open. This is vital for the community. If anyone knows the area, they will understand how hard it will be for a real emergency to get to an alternate hospital with so much traffic on Atlantic Ave, the BQE and other side streets. Governor, do your own investigation, listen to the community and you will have great appreciation. Keep LICH open please.
Feb. 18, 2013, 7:45 pm
Baddog from Crown heights says:
Make sure a bid to buy LICH is not from Vanguard healthcare! It appears that there has been flim flam at SUNY Central seeing this?

In the SUNY 2011-12 Office of General Counsel Report dated June 2012 it states regarding the LICH acquisition, On page 16: "Accordingly, over the past year, Downstate, with outside counsel Hogan Lovells LLP, continued to diligently pursue completion of the seemingly infinite number of required steps and agreements necessary for the deal to close. OGC attorneys (mainly Kevin O’Mara, Jason Weiss, and Michael Morgan) negotiated and brought to completion an Asset Purchase Agreement and other material transaction documents for regulatory approval. "

Kevin P. O'Mara
Associate Counsel
Brooklyn Office
Mr. O'Mara joined the Office of University Counsel as an Associate Counsel in May 2003, assigned to the Regional Office at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Previously, he served as the Compliance Officer for the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation, the Acting General Counsel at Nassau Health Care Corporation, an associate at the law firm of Barnett, Ehrenfeld, Edelstein & Gross, PC in NYC, a hospital Risk Manager and a Registered Nurse in the NY State and Veterans Administration health systems. Mr. O'Mara served in the US Army Reserve from 1988 until his honorable discharge as a Captain in 2002. He is a graduate of Touro College - Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center (JD - 1993), Long Island University (BS - 1983) and the NY State School of Nursing at Central Islip State Hospital (RN - 1974). He is admitted to practice law in New York State.

Kevin O'Mara Board of Directors on Vanguard Healthcare
Vanguard Health Systems Inc. acquires nonprofit hospital systems and converts them to investor-owned status. The company is active in several markets, including Phoenix, Arizona; Orange County, California; Greater Chicago, Illinois; San Antonio, Texas; and Massachusetts. Vanguard typically buys bankrupt or near-bankrupt facilities, then invests in capital improvements to help upgrade service. A series of regional boards provides more local input than at other corporate hospital chains.
Vanguard Health Systems was formed in July 1997 by group of healthcare executives led by Charles Martin, Jr. Martin, an Alabama native, had started successful companies before. He helped launch General Care Corp., a small nursing home firm that Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) acquired for $78 million in 1980. He then worked for HCA, one of the predecessor companies of industry leader Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., eventually taking over 104 poorly performing hospitals spun off as Healthtrust. Martin was chairman and CEO of OrNda HealthCorp. (formerly Republic Health Corp.) from 1992, when it was bankrupt, to its $3 billion acquisition by Tenet Healthcare Corp. in January 1997.
Many nonprofit hospitals were struggling to meet their capital requirements in the changing healthcare industry. Vanguard foresaw the potential for consolidation in areas other consolidators were avoiding. "The name 'Vanguard' means literally the foremost or leading position in a trend," said Martin in a January 1998 statement.
With $1.5 billion in backing, mostly from Morgan Stanley Capital Partners of New York City. Vanguard aimed to consolidate community hospitals into investor-owned systems where the conditions were favorable. It was focused primarily on smaller markets within urban areas. What made the company unique, reported Modern Healthcare, was its governance by regional advisory boards, each comprised of both eight hospital and three Vanguard representatives.
Feb. 19, 2013, 11:34 am
Frank from Cobble Hill says:
Of course there are a lot of wheels within wheels at work here!

LICH started losing money about 15 years ago, and in a disgusting example of wolf guarding the henhouse, Continuum Health Partners was brought in as expert outside management. They transferred the profitable practices to other Continuum managed facilities, like Beth Israel, otherwise siphoned everything they could, and were allowed to run off when they should all be in jail.

Then LICH and SUNY were brought together with the idea that SUNY would establish specialty practices like pediatrics and cardiology, and then Gov. David Paterson found money to make sure the marriage wouldn't contribute to other debt. But as soon as Cuomo became governor that montey was "redirected" and LICH was recommended for closing by a task force Cuomo had put together...a task force unofficially headed by a never-practicing dentist who happened to be Cuomo's best man at his wedding, and whose lobbying client was Brooklyn Hospital!

Then another Cuomo committee starts recommending more hospital closures! So don't expect any fair dealing from our thug Governor. He's elbows deep in this mess, thank you very much.
Feb. 19, 2013, 1:04 pm
in the know from bh says:
SUNY was given millions of taxpayer dollars in grants to make facility improvements at LICH after the merge but they didn't even paint the place. They took that money that was supposed to be used to strengthen LICH and they put it into their medical school and its student parking lot instead. First LICH was plundered by Continuum and now SUNY is pilfering it. & then has the nerve to say that LICH is a money loser. They gotta be kidding me. SUNY is losing millions upon millions a month at its medical school but we don't hear them saying the medical school has to close, so the rationale that LICH is "losing" the couple of million that SUNY is handing over to Continuum for outsourced IT & billing services every month makes no sense. SUNY should gets own house in order & leave LICH alone.
Feb. 22, 2013, 2:53 pm

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