Cobble Hill

LICH patients pay tribute as they await hospital decision

Justice Baynes could decide as soon as Friday

August 15, 2013 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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As supporters of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) await a decision by Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes about the closure of the hospital, expected on Friday, a group of grateful patients held a silent tribute to LICH’s doctors, nurses and staff in front of the Adams Street courthouse on Thursday.

Unlike previous rallies, there was no chanting of slogans or condemnation of SUNY or Governor Andrew Cuomo. Rather, the patients held signs listing the names of staff members at LICH who made them better or saved their lives.

“We wanted to do something positive, to pay tribute to the doctors and nurses who have and are having an impact on our lives,” said Susan Raboy, a local resident and a longtime LICH patient.

LICH patient Deborah Bingham joined the tribute with her daughter Rose Cano. “I’ve had surgery at LICH and they’ve done such a wonderful job,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. “My mother had surgery in 2011, and her doctors will be leaving, which will bring more stress to her.”

“I personally feel less safe,” said resident Ellen Grove. “LICH is a real necessity for the greater neighborhood.”

LICH serves a broad swath of western Brooklyn, stretching from Red Hook to Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO and beyond to Williamsburg.

“I hope Bill de Blasio makes it to mayor; he’s the only one who’s fighting for underprivileged and middle income people,” said Brenda Pepper, another LICH patient.

Public Advocate and mayoral candidate de Blasio has put himself on the line in support of LICH and other threatened Brooklyn hospitals, including Interfaith Medical Center. Six influential civic groups recently joined him in a lawsuit to keep LICH open.

Financially troubled SUNY Downstate, which took over LICH two years ago, has been trying to shut the Cobble Hill hospital since February. The Appellate Division last week dismissed Downstate’s appeal of temporary restraining orders prohibiting the closure. Justice Baynes, who has been urging both sides to work out an agreement in private this week, said he hopes to issue a decision on Friday.

“I hear the hospital in Rockaway is closing now,” said Pepper. Pepper was referring to Thursday’s Daily News report about the partial closure of St. John’s Episcopal, the only hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula since Peninsula Hospital closed in 2012. Residents and workers there fear that St. John’s will follow the same path as LICH.

As the patients stood in silence with their signs, a passerby stopped and said he hoped the hospital would remain open. “I was born at LICH; I came two months early,” he said.

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