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Prognosis negative: LICH advocates slam Related, Fortis overhaul plans

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Activists against closing Long Island College Hospital do not agree on who should take over, but they know exactly who they don’t want — developers who would replace the hospital with a few doctor’s offices.

Hundreds of hospital employees, union reps, and Cobble Hill residents flooded the Saint Francis College Auditorium on Tuesday night to hear about the nine redevelopment proposals for the hospital, which will close in May if no one steps up to keep it running when state managers walk away. Audience members were reserved about which of the four hospital-included overhaul plans they approve of, but they made it clear that they think any plan calling for less than a full-service hospital is not worth the paper it is written on.

“I don’t care whether it’s Mohammed on the mountain who comes down and offers something less than a hospital — it doesn’t meet our needs,” said lawyer Jim Walden, who represented six community groups in a lawsuit against the state.

Anti-closure advocates reserved their loudest ire for the Related Companies–Brooklyn Hospital Center plan and the Fortis Property Group–New York University Langone Medical Center plan, both of which involve donors to Gov. Cuomo. Cuomo, as The Brooklyn Paper has documented, controls the State University of New York, whose representatives effectively have final say in choosing a buyer for the hospital.

The Brooklyn Hospital proposal drew jeers because it calls for just two urgent care centers on the site of the Cobble Hill medical center and two walk-in healthcare centers in Red Hook and Gowanus.

The audience collectively groaned as panelists read the outline by Fortis Property Group, which calls for an ambulatory surgery center and a cancer center. One hospital worker and speaker said he met with the company’s medical reps and they did not have a basic idea of the medical campus they hope to renovate.

“The medical people had no clue of how many buildings were there and what could actually be done with the place,” said Tom Sorra, Concerned Physicians of LICH president.

Other staffers on hand said the Prime Healthcare Services pitch could be the light at the end of the tunnel. The California-based hospital management corporation’s proposal calls for opening a 100-bed hospital immediately in the existing medical buildings.

“That is attractive to me,” said New York State Nurses Association member Susan Shanahan. “We don’t like any proposals that close the hospital for any amount of time.”

Under a new bidding process created by a court settlement that ended a year-long lawsuit over the state’s effort to close the hospital without public input, plans will be evaluated based on a point system that weighs medical services as two-thirds of the score and the rest in terms of cash commitments. As part of the new system, a committee made up of Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook) and reps of the nurses unions and community groups that sued the state will have less than half the say in scoring the medical component of each plan and no weight in evaluating the financials.

The State University of New York could choose a plan at an April 3 board meeting, according to a university spokesman.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at mriesz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
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Reasonable discourse

marsha rimler from brooklyn heights says:
Kudos to all the community players for forcing an open process. Great job
March 26, 2014, 5:12 am
reality from Brooklyn says:
Jim Walden has nothing left to bargain with - like the pied piper, he's leading folks blindly tooting a tune that only they will hear.

Stop the bleeding and let LICH rest in peace.
March 26, 2014, 9:07 am
RealEstateGrab from Bklyn says:
This hospital is the reason why Brooklyn was developed -- all houses and the Brooklyn Bridge come after it. Too bad NY Times isn 't a NYC focused newspaper - or critical of motives? Its the LOCATION of LICH that is the issue - and follow the money. (Actually the buildings are worth many more $100s of millions than the RFPs offer.) NY State has been running LICH into the ground for years - it shut off ER/ ambulances, moved patients out -- and $8 BILLION came in from DC (with Schumer/Gilly etc all looking the other way vs. Cuomo's plan to sell LICH. They should have a suitor to run LICH - but didn't want that. They seem to value the land over the million residents, visitors, workers through Bklyn Hts and surround areas (Red Hook, CG, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, etc). Gov. Cuomo should be run out of office -- but Media, local pols are not calling him out and are playing his game?
March 26, 2014, 9:49 am
Nick from Cobble Hill says:
Jim Walden DOES have cards to play. Judge Baynes made it very clear he will be monitoring the process and if there is any indication of chicanery on the part of SUNY, he reserved the right to bring the parties back to Court. Judge Demerest has stated the same, reserving her right to monitor the refunding of the Othmer Trust. Those who say 'let it die' are callous and ignorant of the healthcare needs of the community LICH serves. I dare that person to visit the ER waiting room of Brooklyn or Methodist Hospital and view the 8-10 ambulances that can be backed up onto 7th Avenue while they wait their turn transferring patients tot the ER. And if you need a Trauma Center and operating room, hope the ambulance can get you to Lutheran, Kings County or Bellevue. With residential construction booming, a sports stadium, cruise ship terminal etc., if a disaster (natural or not) or epidemic were to occur, those that call for 'right sizing' and 'we have too many beds' will be choking on their words.
March 26, 2014, 9:40 pm

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