Cobble Hill

OPINION: BHA says LICH proposals small on square footage, big on unsubstantiated claims

February 11, 2014 By Jane McGroarty, Chair, Brooklyn Heights Association LICH Committee Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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SUNY’s last minute RFP amendment brought out some known brides with new grooms, or perhaps the brides just changed gowns. Pending weddings aside, the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) is concerned that the proposals, four of which only provide for emergency and outpatient care at Long Island College Hospital (LICH), are skimping on the amount of space needed for the services being promised.

Except for the Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization which plans for a 100 bed hospital and using all of the existing core buildings, none of the other four entries included hospital beds. One team has a Long Term Acute Care facility. We understand that the NYS Department of Health has been reluctant to grant approval for these beds, so this plan may be dead in the water.

Fortis and NYU-Langone purport to devote 75,000 square feet for medical services, including an emergency department, urgent care, ambulatory surgery, primary and preventive care, ob-gyn, a broad range of specialty care, diagnostic imaging and a cancer center. To put this in perspective, the Mt. Sinai outpatient facility in Brooklyn Heights occupies 75,000 square feet and does not include an emergency department, ambulatory surgery or chemotherapy/radiation – entities whose size is regulated by NYS.

Both the Peebles and Brooklyn Hospital proposals provide 50,000 square feet for slightly different set-ups. Brooklyn Hospital plans an emergency department and a diagnostic and treatment center. Since they intend, no doubt, to whisk everyone, except the hangnail patients, over to their own undersized ER, Brooklyn anticipates they do not need much space at LICH. Similarly Peebles has no emergency room and proposes a community health center with primary care and possibly, specialty care, as well as mental and dental services and urgent care.

The Brisa proposal has a crowded wedding party that includes the Chetrit group, Northshore-LIJ, Lutheran Medical Center and the Allure Group. (Late breaking news reveals that Brisa is no longer in the running.).  Without specifying the amount of space allocated, Brisa and company [were] proposing a free standing emergency department, an observational unit, a multi-specialty clinic, a birth center (but no NICU) and a Long-Term Acute Care beds.

Having the proper amount of space is critical, but we are equally concerned about the range of services being proposed by the non-hospitals. To paraphrase a Red Hook community member who was asked what types of health services were needed in Red Hook, she replied: “How on earth would I possibly know which illnesses my neighbors are going to get next week?”

The Brooklyn Heights Association, and our neighbors in Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Riverside Houses, Wyckoff Gardens and Red Hook, believe that western Brooklyn needs a full service hospital.  We are tired of hearing that LICH is 50 percent occupied. That deception works for SUNY, since the media (this fine paper being an exception) simply regurgitate what is fed to them by PR firms – paid with tax dollars. We are tired of unsubstantiated claims of losses by SUNY Downstate – an entity that has no audited financial statements for the past several years. Isn’t it obvious that losses in 2013 were self-inflicted as SUNY cut ambulance service, drastically reduced admissions and closed clinics?

We are calling for a new RFP that gives weight to a full service hospital and allows for community participation in the drafting and selection of any entity that will take over LICH. With all the brides and bridegrooms out there, wouldn’t it make sense for SUNY to issue a new RFP?

Jane McGroarty
Chair, Brooklyn Heights Association LICH Committee
American Institute of Architects

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