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Two more LICH bidders want to keep the hospital alive • Brooklyn Paper

Two more LICH bidders want to keep the hospital alive

If the state opts to close Long Island College Hospital, its campus will become a hot commodity for housing developers, real estate experts say.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Long Island College Hospital’s last hope for staying a hospital is in the hands of two latecomers to the state’s bidding war for the prime real estate it sits on.

Two medical companies that recently announced they want to buy the hobbled Cobble Hill medical center would keep it a full-service hospital, according to pro-hospital activists who say they have met with the bidders. The companies vying for a shot at redeveloping the healthcare facility are tight-lipped about their plans, but only one of the last batch of five overhaul pitches included a hospital, while the rest consisted of residential developments with a few medical facilities. News of the latest prospective owners had neighbors who opposed the state’s efforts to close the hospital thrilled on the eve of the March 19 deadline for proposals.

“I’m excited about this,” said Charlene Nimmons, president of Boerum Hill’s Wyckoff Gardens Association.

Nimmons was impressed by what she heard in a closed-door meeting with a group called Brooklyn Health Partners.

“They’re committed to working with the community and developing what we feel is going to be needed there,” she said.

The Brooklyn Health Partners plan includes a “state-of-the-art” hospital with an emergency room that could eventually accommodate as many as 400 beds, according to Nimmons.

Another company floating the idea of a takeover bid is Prime Healthcare Services, a California-based hospital management corporation that operates 25 acute care centers across the nation, according to anti-closure activists.

The Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization, which, along with grocery tycoon John Catsimatidis and former Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, was the only bidder to propose keeping the hospital a hospital in the aborted first round of proposals, is planning to re-submit a hospital-centered plan, activists said.

The six community groups that sued the State University of New York to keep the hospital open have long lobbied for a full-service medical facility, but they have not yet selected a favorite from the three proposals, according to one former plaintiff.

“It’s certainly a complex decision,” said Cobble Hill Association president Roy Sloane.

Among the factors muddying the waters is the controversy hanging over Prime Healthcare Services.

Hospitals run by the company have some of the highest malnutrition rates in California and company head Prem Reddy is prone to slashing pay and benefits for workers and canceling patient contracts with insurers, according to a document released in 2011 by the Services Employees International Union 1199 International, which sued the state for attempting to close Long Island College Hospital. The hospital chain is also under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, according to the news website Capital New York.

And Prime is not the only suitor in hot water with the Justice Department.

Developer Related Companies, which has pitched a residential compound with an urgent care center and a few short-term medical facilities run by The Brooklyn Hospital Center, was slapped with a lawsuit by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Monday for allegedly routinely developing luxury residential buildings that are inaccessible to people with disabilities.

A rep for Prime Healthcare Services declined to comment. A Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization spokeswoman did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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

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