LICH closure proposal withdrawn

April 26, 2013 Denise Romano
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This afternoon, SUNY Downstate Medical Center withdrew its closure plan for Long Island College Hospital (LICH) from the New York State Department of Health and said it would continue to look for a healthcare service provider within the LICH area, including potentially another hospital operator.

“The financial conditions at LICH remain unchanged. LICH’s continued financial losses still threaten the viability of Downstate Medical and our world-renowned medical school, said Downstate President Dr. John F. Williams, Jr. We are withdrawing the closure plan so we can work with the state and other stakeholders on a sustainability plan for Brooklyn’s only medical school and to ensure quality medical care throughout the borough. The current legal proceedings prohibit this dialogue.

The new state budget gives SUNY a new and comprehensive set of tools for Downstate to restructure itself and requires that SUNY and Downstate, with the approval of the DOH and the State Division of the Budget, develop a Sustainability Plan, which is due June 1, 2013 with implementation to begin by June 15, 2013.

This sends a very strong message that Brooklyn hospitals matter! Yes these are tough economic times and there is tremendous fiscal stress butit makes no absolutely sense for us to continue cutting hospital bedswhile our borough grows by leaps and bounds, said Councilmember Vincent Gentile. We are playing a shell game with people’s lives and walking a tight rope without a net.

Jill Furillo, RN, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, stated,This is an incredible victory for Brooklyn patients. We want to thank Governor Cuomo for helping us find solutions to Brooklyn’s healthcare crisis.

From the beginning, our members worked with nurses, doctors, neighbors, patient advocates and elected officials and did everything in our power to find alternative solutions that would keep LICH’s vital medical services and good jobs in the community, said George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. This victory proves the grassroots strength we have when we unite for quality healthcare, and we will continue to work hard to ensure LICH remains open and thriving for generations to come.

“We are encouraged by SUNY’s decision to withdraw the closure plan,” said Toomas Sorra, MD, President of Concerned Physicians of LICH. We are committed to the restoration and improvement of services at LICH, and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that SUNY fulfills its obligation to maintain services and departments at the levels in place prior to the submission of the closure plan.”

Former City Councilmember Sal Albanese, who is running for mayor, already called for a moratorium on hospital closures.

LICH saves lives, and the people saved LICH! Nurses, patients, doctors, elected officials, and New Yorkers from across the five boroughs organized and fought hard to keep the hospital open, and today, they succeeded, he said. By staying united and never giving up, they’ve provided an inspiring example of how New Yorkers can protect their neighborhoods from those who would build condos on every square foot of public land if they could.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin also released a statement praising the news.

This is a victory for Downtown Brooklyn, its residents and the entire health care system of New York City, they said. “For more than 150 years, LICH has been an invaluable asset to its community and a critical part of the city’s health care system. It provides medical care to over 100,000 patients a year and employs more than 2,000 people. Thankfully, it will continue to.

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