Tentative agreement on future of LICH

February 27, 2014 Heather Chin
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A rumored deal between the state of New York and SUNY Downstate over the fate of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights has come to fruition, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, SUNY Chairperson Carl McCall and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made the announcement late in the afternoon on Thursday, February 20.

According to the settlement agreement, SUNY will cease its role as operator of the cash-strapped 155-year-old community hospital “no later than May 2014,” at which point “an agreed upon process to deliver a viable long-term health care solution” would kick in.

If a new buyer/solution is not agreed upon by stakeholders by May 22, then the hospital will close until a buyer is found.

It is not clear whether hospital/union employees will have a job under new management. Thus far, at least 241 nurses have received furlough notices that could take effect as soon as April 10.

Next up is a 15-day “expedited RFP submission process, followed by a seven day selection period” amongst bidders, of which there are currently four already in contention. Thus far, all four bidders’ proposals suggest transforming LICH’s valuable real estate into a combination housing-healthcare complex. Any bid that includes a full-service hospital would be given greater consideration.

The newly set minimum bid is $210 million; if proceeds exceed $240 million, then 25 percent of the surplus will go to a non-profit selected by Public Advocate Letitia James.

The existing proposals are as follows:

  • Fortis Property Group/NYU Langone Medical Center/Lutheran Family Health would transform the 20-building complex into luxury condominiums, at least 25 percent affordable housing, and an emergency room and urgent care center with specialized health services.
  • Related Cos/Brooklyn Hospital Center would transform the complex into a series of primary, outpatient, urgent and specialty care centers and clinics, as well as 1,000 mixed-income residential units, at least 350 of them marked as affordable housing.
  • Don Peebles/Institute for Family Health would include a 50,000-square-foot primary care facility and residential space of which 35 percent would be classified affordable.
  • Brisa Builders/Cornell Realty/Chetrit Group/Lutheran Medical Center would provide primary care, dental services and behavioral service care, as well as an undetermined amount of residential units.
  • All stakeholders—state, unions, community groups and city politicians’ legal teams—signed off on the deal, which gives the Save LICH Coalition— a coalition of six neighborhood and civic groups—a 49 percent say in which proposal is chosen during the RFP process.

    De Blasio, who got a boost in his mayoral campaign as a result of his vocal advocacy against hospital closures, praised the agreement, calling it “the culmination of all the tremendous work by nurses and doctors, neighborhood associations, patients and elected officials who refused to back down. This is an outcome that we couldn’t have achieved without the commitment of Governor Cuomo and SUNY, and I thank them for helping achieve this resolution.

    “For months, we were told the free-fall closure of [LICH] was inevitable,” de Blasio also noted. “We fought back. We went to court to keep the padlocks off the doors. We fought shoulder to shoulder with this community and used all the tools of city government to press for a better outcome. And now, we have a resolution that finally puts people’s health first.”

    Despite declarations of this being a “win-win agreement” by Cuomo, de Blasio and McCall, at least some community stakeholders are not immediately classifying this as a victory, as the settlement does not guarantee that the LICH property will contain a full-service hospital.

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