Justice Baynes holds conference in LICH case
The parties in the case against SUNY Downstate’s proposed plan to close Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill were again in the courtroom of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes on Monday.
In a closed conference, the attorneys for both sides discussed the manner in which SUNY adhered to or has violated the temporary restraining order issued by Baynes in April to prvevent SUNY from taking measures to effectuate a hospital closure. Baynes issued a modified TRO last week permitting SUNY to communicate with the Department of Health. As the initial April TRO is still in place, SUNY and DOH are still not permitted to discuss the possibility of closing LICH until all legal matters have been adjudicated.
LICH doctors and some members of the New York State Nurses Association were permitted in the courtroom temporarily. Baynes acknowledged their presence but noted that he was not taking testimony, and the doctors and NYSNA members were then ushered out of the courtroom.
Attorneys for both sides, presumably upon orders from Baynes, were vague on the details of Monday’s conference. “The court has been paying careful attention to what’s happening on the ground at LICH,” said Richard Seltzer, an attorney for NYSNA.
“It is NYSNA’s position that SUNY come to its senses and have the ambulances rolling,” Seltzer said in reference to SUNY’s practice of diverting ambulances away from LICH’s emergency room in an alleged de facto attempt to shut down the ER.
“The court is following this very closely,” Hanna Fox, an attorney representing the Concerned Physicians of LICH, said after the conference. “SUNY was asked to report back to [Baynes] tomorrow about compliance.” It is unclear whether SUNY will have to appear in person or merely submit a report to Baynes on its compliance with the TRO.
“We hope that SUNY will do the right thing,” Fox said. A new court date to further litigate outstanding LICH matters has not yet been set.