Long Island College Hospital closes; bare-bones ER remains temporarily

May 23, 2014 Heather Chin
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Long Island College Hospital (LICH) has closed.

As of midnight, Friday, May 23, the 156-year-old community hospital at 339 Hicks Street officially emptied its beds and shut its doors, leaving only a temporary, limited-service emergency room open for walk-ins through the end of June.

However, with no Intensive Care Unit or staffed surgical facilities available, the ER would essentially be operating as an urgent care center, diagnosing and treating only the most basic of injuries and sending patients to other hospitals in Brooklyn for further care.

LICH patients who require their medical records should call 718-780-4632, 4642 or 4643.

Ambulance service is scheduled to resume on July 15, transporting patients to and from a walk-in “freestanding” ER operated by North Shore-LIJ, which has partnered with the site’s new owner—developer Peebles Corp.—to handle the health care portion of Peebles’ commercial and housing development plan, which does not include a hospital.

The lack of a hospital on the site is exactly the opposite of what supporters—including then-mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio—had waged an 18-month legal and public relations battle to accomplish.

Although news of the hospital’s closure doesn’t come as a complete surprise, even to its army of vocal, passionate supporters, it still hit hard.

“This is not what we fought for, to end up with urgent care,” said Julie Semente, a LICH nurse for 30 years to the New York Times.

However, “we hope this agreement means that LICH will not remain permanently and completely closed after tonight,” Semente and her colleagues Joan Rowley, Loreto Gasman and Sonia Taylor of the NYS Nurses Association (NYSNA) added.

Only a fraction of hospital staff remain during the transition; the rest have been laid off.

It is unknown whether and how many workers will be re-hired once the limited-service ER is reopened.

According to State Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes, who green-lighted the proposed deal on Thursday, May 22, Peebles and its health care partners must hire an independent health care consultant to conduct a community-needs-assessment analyzing the lack of and need for health care in the community. No “political considerations” are allowed.

“[We are] hoping it’s more transparent and honest than the RFP process was—and await whatever else comes in the direction of Downtown Brooklyn to provide full-care hospital services in an area where it’s needed,” wrote Dr. Toomas M. Sorra of Concerned Physicians for LICH.

The Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill/Downtown Brooklyn area has seen an increase in the number of urgent care clinics and group practices such as City MD and Mount Sinai Doctors Brooklyn Heights arriving in recent months, in an effort to fill the health care vacuum left by LICH.

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