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OPINION: Prescription for LICH: Brooklyn Medical District with Full-Service Hospital

March 22, 2014 Charlene Nimmons, President of Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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I, Charlene Nimmons the President of Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association, am writing in response to Drs. Peter Smith and Daniel Rosenbaum’s opinion editorial article that was printed in the New York Daily News on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. While I disagree with the doctors’ doomsday prognosis for Long Island College Hospital (LICH), I am in absolute agreement that “the future of Brooklyn health care is not bleak,” but for different reasons.

There is a serious debate as to whether or not the LICH problems are the result of it being an outdated dinosaur that is a “drain” on resources as Smith and Rosenbaum allege or that it has been purposely loaded with debt by the state in order to fail. But what is not in disagreement with all parties concerned is that the current operating paradigm of LICH is unsustainable.

However, the question that Dr. Smith and Dr. Rosenbaum does not address is, “Why, in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in a Borough of 2.5 million people, a full­ service hospital is not sustainable. And why do tens of thousands of Brooklynites drive the bridge and tunnels to Manhattan for their medical care?” Moreover, in Manhattan there are six hospital beds for every 1000 citizens, while Brooklyn has only 2.5 hospital beds for every 1000 citizens. And Brooklyn is substantially larger.

Dr. Smith and Rosenbaum make the claim that no “credible” bidder will offer a full­ service hospital.  How would they know that if the latest rounds of bidders have not been made public? And had they sat in with the community groups that have engaged that the latest round of bidders, I don t think they would have made that statement.

The aforementioned community and health-affiliated groups had the opportunity to listen to several of the bidders’ presentations to purchase LICH. And I was most impressed with Brooklyn Health Partners’ (BHP) plan to offer a 21st century full­ service hospital, with up to 400 beds at the core of a revitalized campus, in what they are calling the Brooklyn Medical District. Their proposed operator is Quorum Health Resources, one of the largest and most successful hospital management firms in the country. Moreover, BHP’s CEO has extensive background in developing medical facilities and comes from a background in healthcare.

Some of us actually agree with Doctors Smith and Rosenbaum’s suggestion that the successful bidder should not just be ready to fill LICH’s footprint, but offer “new, innovative solutions to expand services to Brooklyn populations that are historically underserved, like Red Hook.” While I do not pretend to be an expert in health care delivery systems, common sense does tell me that a new 21st century hospital in LICH’s present location, managed by a world class operator, would certainly attract doctors who would want access to Brooklyn’s patient base. And I would find it hard to believe that tens of thousands of Brooklynites would continue to drive pass a first-class facility on their way to Manhattan.

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