In which we tell you what contempt of a temporary restraining order is and why the state might be willing to risk it

LICH legal battle have your head spinning? Let The Explainer explain

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Judges have issued multiple court orders demanding the state keep Long Island College Hospital functioning like it was before officials decided to shutter it after 155 years in operation. Managers of the Cobble Hill institution insist that they have followed those orders to the letter, but hospital advocates say that the state has reduced the hospital to a shell of its former self — and broken the law in the process. What is going on in court and what does it mean for the hobbled Brooklyn health care facility? The Explainer breaks it down:

What, exactly, are the courts demanding?

Judges have issued three restraining orders in recent weeks that prohibit the state from taking steps to close the hospital until lawsuits filed by the New York State Nurses Association, a union representing hospital nurses, and public advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill DeBlasio are settled.

If the court says the state cannot do anything to close the hospital, how could the state divert ambulances and stop admitting patients?

Appeals. Last month, a state Supreme Court judge said that the state is breaking the law by closing the hospital to ambulances and new overnight patients. But the state has appealed that decision, as it has the right to do. Right now, the order DeBlasio obtained has been thrown out and enforcement of the other two has been suspended until at least Aug. 7, when another contempt hearing is scheduled.

Okay, so it sounds like the hospital is in legal limbo. What does that mean for would-be patients and the sick people still inside?

Last week, appeals Judge Robert Miller told state officials that they have to maintain hospital service at current levels. That means no ambulances and no overnight admissions, but also no patient transfers and no emergency room closure. In other words: if you cut yourself while chopping vegetables, you can take a cab to the emergency room and get stitched up. But if, say, you fracture your skull rock climbing, an ambulance would have to deliver you to another emergency room. As for the 10-or-so patients still inside, the hospital is supposed to continue treating them until they are ready for discharge. However, one elderly patient disappeared last week under mysterious circumstances.

If the state closes the hospital when judges say it should not, what are the consequences? Could anyone end up in jail?

That is extremely unlikely. If judges continue to reprimand the state for moving to close the hospital, the state agencies responsible could face escalating fines. This legal scenario played out over the course of 25 years with the city’s Department of Homeless Services, which faced a barrage of lawsuits, court orders, and contempt rulings for failing to address conditions at homeless shelters. Homeless Services agreed to sweeping new guidelines in 2008 only after paying out millions in court-ordered fines.

What does all this mean for Long Island College Hospital?

It is going condo. The state, with Gov. Cuomo’s blessing, has done everything to close the hospital short of bussing out the remaining patients and firing the staff. The bottom line is that a court cannot make the money appear in state budgets so, unless state lawmakers change their minds in a hurry, the hospital’s days are numbered. Even if a restraining order remains in effect, state officials could decide that the fine would be a small price to pay for the probable $500-million payday it gets when it sells the land the hospital sits on to developers, who’ll most likely bring in residential development, along with some medical component.

Updated 10:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Don Wiss from Park Slope says:
It is not cost effective for every neighborhood to have its own hospital. Methodist in Park Slope is two miles away. And The Brooklyn Hospital Center is only 1-1/4 miles away.
July 29, 2013, 10:34 am
Mark from Ft. Greene says:
The distance to the hospitals needs to be measured in travel minutes, not distance, unless you can fly like loony bird. Methodist has lately been clocked at 20 minutes from LICH as has Brooklyn Hospital. Ever try to cross Flatbush Avenue/Atlantic Avenue/4th Avenue at peak hours? I hope you never are in an ambulance having to do so, and if you are, I hope you have your affairs in order.

And ALL the hospitals are reporting a sever uptick in their emergency room numbers! They are swamped. So don't go simplifying this as a neighborhood concern: this is regional, and Governor Cuomo needs to get off the stick if he intends to run for re-election as Governor, let alone entertain his presidential fantasies!
July 29, 2013, 10:57 am
wake up from brooklyn says:
Don Wiss ignorant comment clearly indicates that he doesn't seem to understand the implications. The chart shows not just driving distances but also that there would be no hospital from Red Hook to Williamsburg. A HUGE area. Stroke, heart attacks, car accident, shock, all emergencies that LICH handles well, cannot be handled in urgent care centers. Time means life or death. This summer there have already been more than 1 occasion where the 2 other hospitals Don W mentions were also unable to accept ambulances - due to overcrowding, broken AC, etc, With SUNY Downstate administrators preventing LICH from accepting ambulances & then Brooklyn Hospital not accepting them temporarily, ambulances were lined up 10 at a time waiting to bring their patients into Methodist. While they're waiting there for over 1 1/2 hrs, they were out of service to anyone else who might need an ambulance. And Christine Quinn wants to know why there wasn't an available ambulance for 30minutes? Beause theyre all lined up on 7th ave waiting their turn to get into the ER to drop people off. The other night even with Brooklyn Hospital functioning, there were about 200 patients in Methodist ER & my aunt waited 10 hrs for care. And didn't even get a hospital bed. During this summer there were also times when both those hospitals could not accept ambulances because of the overcrowding in their ERs. So there was no available emergency room from Park Slope to Fort Green. Do you even realize what that means? Ask the mother & child who were standing on Pierrepont & Montague for over 1 1/2 hrs with the ambulance as police & medics were on telephones trying to find an emergency room that they could take the child to. The only available ER closest to Brooklyn Heights that day turned out to be Woodhull.

Moral of the story: Brooklyn needs LICH more than SUNY Downstate needs a real estate deal to finance its grand plans or to fill its budget holes & Governor Cuomo needs to recognize that his thug tactics by his hit-men are not going to be let go unanswered for.
July 29, 2013, 11:34 am
Angela from Carroll Gardens says:
MATILDA, do SOMETHING about your son!!!
July 29, 2013, 11:39 am
Lefty from Red Hook says:
Don Wiss, what real estate co do you work for? Or is e a plant for the venal, corrupt and corrupting Andrew Cuomo?

Tell the truth, Donnie! You don't live in Brooklyn or don't drive here either, correct?
July 29, 2013, 1:38 pm
Donnie D. from Ft. Greene says:
LICH is a huge hospital (like 500 ), but has had awful census for the past decade (about 200). It is losing $15mill a month (that's $180mill a year!) and has never pulled enough money to cover its expenses. That's why it got spun off of the Continuum Health Partners. If you think LICH shouldn't be closed- how do you think the state should try to keep this open? By taxing people more?
July 29, 2013, 2:15 pm
Barry from Flatbush says:
The public school in my neighborhood is also failing to break even. So are the roads in my neighborhood. And don;t even get me started on the buses and subways. All losing money. And the police and fire protection. Total economic losers. Now, nobody needs an emergency room as much as they need those other things, but still, if we are going to end hospital care because it doesn't turn a profit, we should certainly get rid of public transit, roads, police, fire departments, and public schools. What do you want to do, tax people to pay for vital public services that sustain our quality of life? Communist!
July 29, 2013, 5:12 pm
Ed R. from Brooklyn Hts says:
If you accept the fact that LICH is losing money and must be closed, then for sure the US Postal Service and many other State Agencies are long overdue for closure. All New Yorkers should remember what or what NOT the great CUOMO is doing.
July 29, 2013, 5:56 pm
Greg from Bklyn Hts says:
I heard that if LICH and Interfaith hosp close, that will leave 5 emergency rooms to serve Brooklyn's 2.5 million people. Something's quite wrong with this picture.
July 29, 2013, 9:36 pm
Greg, I'm sure Donnie will tell you how close the NYU hospital is-- just over the bridge, might even be closer than Methodist... How long does it take to drive there, Donnie?

"Funny" the things New York state DOES come up with the money for, not that I believe the accounting LIES LIES LIES LIES about LICH for a minute.
July 29, 2013, 10:55 pm
Don Wiss from Park Slope says:
I agree that it isn't easy to get across Flatbush. But it does not take 20 minutes to get from LICH to Methodist. Just because one woman claimed it took the ambulance that much longer doesn't make it a fact. She had every reason to exaggerate to make her case.

Methodist is about to undertake a major expansion. As I happen to live close by I am very opposed. I'd prefer to not live near any hospital. They produce a lot of car traffic and sirens. And I certainly don't drive in Brooklyn. I bicycle instead. (And I can bicycle from LICH to Methodist in 20 minutes!)

LICH should be replaced with an urgent care facility. Most of the people that go to ER could be well served by urgent care. There could be urgent cares in every neighborhood. Those 200 people (probably an exaggerated count) waiting in Methodist ER did not arrive by ambulance. They could have gone to an urgent care facility.

Now there are privately run urgent care offices around. Including one not far from Methodist. You do not have a long wait. You will see a doctor and not a PA. They take all insurances. Your copay will be much lower than the ER copay. But that won't help those that go to ER expecting free care.
July 29, 2013, 11:45 pm
Sick of SUNY & Cuomo from boreum hil says:
Donnie D, you're sadly very wrong & uninformed. In fact, I might think you were one of Downstate's PR spinners trying to get inaccurate info out there to smear LICH's name. LICH was licensed for 506 beds but the DOH asked it to voluntarily downsize almost 20 yrs ago. The license didn't change but the operations did - to about 250 staffed beds. Some floors that used to have beds were turned into ambulatory & out patient areas. Like the 7th fl that was turned into women's health services and mammography. So LICH is a 250 bed hospital & has been for a long time. It has been consistently full with 90% (or better) occupancy of those beds every day for over 2 yrs -- until SUNY Downstate physically started removing the patients & not letting anymore in. Open LICH doors & it will filled again in a week.
July 30, 2013, 3:16 pm
We see you! from cobble hill says:
Hey Donnie D (for Downstate). You gave yourself away with that foolish claim of $15million a month. In all these months since January SUNY never said that LICH was ever losing anything close to that. That's some new PR spin thrown out there recently, with no supporting documentation to prove its even true. But even if there are those costs, its not LICH that's losing it. Those are SUNY & Governor Cuomo's closure expenses. Slime trying to pass it off as LICH's fault & manipulate people into believing that SUNY's expenses for 100s of armed security to stand in hallways & block exits & sneak patients out of the hospital are "lich losses".
If you and the rest of SUNY Downstate & their PR want are so concerned about losses, youd let the patients come back, restore services & bill correctly for them. Would have been more cost effective to just let LICH continue functioning. You guys weren't concerned about that so ont talk to us about how much money you are causing to be lost now. Thanks.
July 30, 2013, 3:27 pm
Sick of SUNY & Cuomo from boerum hill says:
#1 LICH was not losing money. If it didn't have to pay the $3 mil per month to its previous owners in the sweetheart deal that SUNY set up in the merger & forced LICH to pay, the hospital would have been breaking even. The amount SUNY said LICH was "losing" was equal to the amount they had LICH pay to Continuum each month. Duh.

#2 Millions$ that were supposed to be available to help LICH over rough times were pilfered by previous & current owners -- Even Warren Buffet just commented in WSJ & CNBC on how dastardly that was.

#3 LICH is not losing $15 mil/mth & SUNY never claimed that was -- until this month - after they hired 100s armed security, removed patients & cut off services at LICH. SO its SUNY & Governor Cuomo who are losing that money, not LICH. And its unnecessary.

#4 It says a lot about the character of the people running SUNY & these hospitals & even the Governor who would allow their PR spinner to deceive the public by claiming that the massive amounts of money they are spending on efforts to block patients, harrass staff, & close the hospital are the hospital's "losses". Their war chest & closure expenses are not LICH's losses.

#5 Cuomo wouldn't give SUNY the $150 million they wanted from the budget but he's letting them spend $15 million a month on security, PR & others things just to close LICH down? Yes - because their Downstate sustainability plan that Cuomo signed says they get reimbursed for closure expenses out of the sale of LICH.

#6 If they were so concerned about losses, open the doors, let the patients in, stop paying the previous owner & learn to bill correctly for services.

#7 LICH doesn't need to be REPLACED with an urgent care center. It ALREADY has an urgent care center. Separate from the main ER but in same area of the hospital. Its called the Fast-Track Center & is why the LICH ER had less wait times than other hospitals around even when it was full.

#8 Urgent care doesn't care for heart attacks, strokes or a lot of other conditions. They cannot replace a hospital. LICH staffed beds were at 90% occupancy every day. Those people could not have been cared for in an urgent care center. So no, LICH cannot be replaced with an urgent care center.

#9 Closure is not the answer. Restructure can be accomplished with the hospital in operation.

#10 Stop trying to discredit LICH & make up an excuse to "justify" its closure. There is no justification - only 1 lie after another from SUNY. Theres a reason why the Governor & Mayor have kept their mouths shut. Just be honest & admit - they want to sign,seal & deliver the mega-million real estate deal that they already have lined up
July 30, 2013, 4:01 pm
Let LICH die peacefully from Cobble Hill says:
Do they have hospice for hospitals? If so, please call them as this is inhuman.

The real truth is that none of you know anything about what your saying. Only LICH knows what their problems are and are acting on them.

There are a lot of folks in Cobble Hill that are happy to see this institutional environment dissapear from this residential neighborhood. Cobble Hill has had to put up with this for decades. Any other community that wants its turn, can have it.

If folks think they need a hospital, lobby for one in a commercial or industrial zone - not here, not in Cobble Hill.

Death is the natural progression.
July 31, 2013, 8:29 am
Angela Petrillo from Carroll Gardens says:
^^^^^ Cut the nonsense. Environemtal disaster? You live NEXT TO A HIGHWAY on one side and Atlantic Avenue on the other... Real estate and corrupt Cuomo shills are so transparent... At least up your game to Brooklyn street ball standards.
July 31, 2013, 6:48 pm
Darrell Grogan from so-called "Cobble Hill" says:
Question for the ignorant among us: what was there first, the hospital or the useful but fatuous invention of "Cobble Hill"? Anyone care to tell me when "Cobble Hill" first saw print in the modern sense? And when was the hospital built there again? Thanks for helping out.
July 31, 2013, 6:50 pm
Peggy Lynch from Windsor Terrace says:
The more I read here, the more clear it is to me that Bloomberg's silence and Cuomo's silence meant they have been hiding their intentions to sell the real estate.
We all know it is worth millions if not billions. I believe in the survival of the fittest, but I feel so frightened and sad to think that this hospital would disappear. It is part of the history of Brooklyn being over 150 years old and one of the first teaching hospitals in the nation It has been a community hospital in many respects serving both the rich and poor from Brooklyn Heights to Red Hook. If those walls could only talk inside that hospital for the families and patients who received quality care and comfort in dire times. It's true that LICH has been ranked as a very fine hospital by JACCHO and according to the caliber of physicians who practice there. Somehow LICH's excellent reputation has been minimized. Perhaps it was Continuum siphoning the funds and Othmer money to their Manhattan hospitals that created bad PR for the hospital, either intentionally or as a bi-product? That combined with the state of health care in general over the past 2-3 decades took its toll. It is hard to say if SUNY wanted to sell the property from the time they took it over 2 years ago or whether they just discovered that they didn't have the experience or commitment to run a large hospital like LICH. Their lack of interest is suspicious but also might be part of their complacency to hold onto their jobs and save their own campus. I hope that the fight continues and that a full service hospital will remain and flourish. I will not be able to stomach seeing condos there as pretty as they may be.
Aug. 3, 2013, 4:58 am
ch from South Brooklyn says:
to "Let LICH" from Cobble Hill: FYI LICH has been right where it is since 1858 - before "cobble hill" or any residential and commercial zoning existed & all that was around it was farmland. LICH has been here for 155yrs. I'm sure you haven't been. If you had a problem living near a hospital, you should not have chosen to live near a hospital. For the record, the community just entered a lawsuit to save this hospital - because we need it.
Aug. 4, 2013, 9:48 am

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