LICH gets additional reprieve from state judge

April 2, 2013 Heather Chin
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New York State Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes ruled on Monday, April 1 to block any planned closure of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) for at least a month, until a hearing can be held on May 2.

However, layoff notices have already been sent out to the hospital’s 1,800 employees.

Baynes’s ruling, as described in court documents, barred SUNY administrators, as well as the state Department of Health and its commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah, from taking any action to close the 155-year-old community hospital on the edge of Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights until that hearing takes place.

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This is the second time Baynes has ruled to stay SUNY’s hand in closing and selling of the hospital’s building and/or land. On March 14, he vacated SUNY’s vote for closure on the grounds that their closed-session meeting violated open meetings law.

This is also the latest in a months-long back-and-forth between SUNY Downstate, LICH supporters and staff, local politicians, and the courts.

Citing financial difficulties, SUNY’s Board of Trustees decided on February 8 to close LICH — which is purchased in 2011. Hospital employees maintain that they were never notified of any impending fiscal crises; community members have testified to the same effect, noting that they only heard about the potential closure when protests began.

Brooklyn politicians have also requested to extend the Cobble Hill Historic District’s boundaries to include LICH’s footprint. This would put a 50-foot height restriction on the area, preventing rumored condo development from occurring should LICH close, given concerns that the main goal in closing LICH is to capitalize on its $500 million estimated real estate value.

The letters were signed by Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senators Daniel Squadron and Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblymember Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin.

The Cobble Hill Association (CHA) also released a video to raise awareness about the fight to save LICH; the commercial is entitled “LICH: Two Minutes To Live.”

In a letter to the press, CHA President Roy Sloane noted that””since the beginnIng of this crisis, I have asked every doctor, nurse, EMT, ambulance driver and paramedic this question: “Will people die?”

“The answer from every single professional that I have asked is “Yes,” he said. “This proposed closure of our hospital represents a grave danger for for all the nearly 1 million people who live, work, shop, and play in Downtown Brooklyn but most especially for the residents of the surrounding communities who depend on [LICH] for critical emergency care. Going further to get to another hospital spells disaster or death for many stroke, cardiac and accident victims.”

Supporters of LICH are encouraged to attend a community health fair/rally on Friday, April 5, at 6 p.m. at the PAL Miccio Center at 110 West 9th Street.

There will also be a “March to Save LICH” on Sunday, April 7 at 1 p.m., starting at Coffey Park in Red Hook, near the Dwight and Verona Streets entrance.

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