The cash-strapped Long Island College Hospital is selling a chunk of its real-estate portfolio to stave off its ongoing financial meltdown, reviving the controversy that nearly tore the hospital apart in 2008.
Critics say that the hospital’s management company, Continuum Health Partners, is breaking a recent promise that no more property would be sold. They characterized the bid to vend multiple brownstone houses, apartment buildings and an undeveloped lot around the core campus in Cobble Hill as a get-rich-quick scheme before an expected rupture between the hospital and Continuum.
“They’re trying to get while the getting’s good,” said Tom Sorra, a doctor and outspoken opponent of Continuum’s control of LICH since the two joined in 1998.
“This is despite assurances that there would be absolutely no more real-estate sales.”
A hospital spokeswoman countered that the properties, previously used as residences and office space, are not vital for the medical services offered at Long Island College Hospital and should be sold to negate the burden of debt obligations and yawning budget deficits, which ran close to $40 million in 2008.
“LICH presently is gauging interest in several brownstone properties for the possibility of future sale,” said Zippi Dvash. “These properties are not essential to the overall operations of the hospital, and their future sale would contribute to LICH’s long-term financial future.”
Sorra said the new selloff dredged up bad memories of previous transactions when the hospital sold the historic Lamm Institute building on Amity Street and the former longshoremen’s union facility on Court Street. Taken together, he says, Continuum is shrinking the 150-year-old hospital out of business, an accusation that often flared up throughout 2008.
Last year, the management company also attempted to shut the maternity and pediatrics wards, asserting that they were a drain on the hospital’s limited resources, but the state rebuffed Continuum, forcing LICH to keep the two wards open and gave them a short-term loan to tide the hospital over.
The current attempted sale of eight properties in and around the Cobble Hill medical center are being handled by the real-estate firm Grubb and Ellis, Crain’s reported last Friday, but there is no asking price for any of them. Instead, parties are invited to make an offer.