Cobble Hill

Concern in Brooklyn as LICH ER shrinks

SUNY says NYU is prepping space for September move-in

July 11, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
LICH ER shrinking. Photo by Mary Frost
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Supporters of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) rallied outside the Cobble Hill hospital’s emergency department on Thursday to express concern about SUNY shrinking what remains of the ER.

SUNY workers moved the unit into the hospital’s former pediatric emergency department, a smaller space.

SUNY, which has kept the ER open as a walk-in urgent care clinic as part of its sale of LICH to developer Fortis Property Group, says it is preparing the full ER space for NYU, which will be operating a “walk-in ER” there starting in September.

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Medical personnel told the Brooklyn Eagle that the pediatric space was “very cramped,” with ten smaller beds, as opposed to 30-plus in the original ER.

A nurse said, “They’re even disassembling the CAT scan machine. We really can’t do anything. They’re eviscerating it [the ER].

“We’re not getting many patients anyway,” she said. “We’re being hamstrung, we can’t do any real care because anything that would be diagnostic or that could generate the possibility of follow-up needed is not being done. Our equipment is down to nothing; everything is being wrapped up or thrown out or taken away. I really don’t know in terms of stock what we really have — we very much are down to bare bones. It is battlefield conditions.”

“Patients who come in are being evaluated and sent elsewhere, basically,” she added. “To have an ER, you need a hospital.”

She also said that insurance companies “sent letters to the community saying that since the hospital is an urgent care, not an ER, they would not pay the bills.”

David Doyle, spokesperson for SUNY, told the Eagle that NYU was getting the ER ready for their September move-in. “Planning for NYU to assume operations by September 1st with expanded services requires site preparation including upgrades and installing new equipment.”

He added, “Health care services will continue uninterrupted ‎and at their current levels.”

On July 1, SUNY said the center was seeing roughly 35 patients a day. Doyle said the department handled 15 on Thursday.

Susan Raboy, spokesperson for Patients for LICH, said, “I’m concerned that the work going on today is affecting the patients who are in the ER or going into the ER. I was told that nothing could begin until the RFP was approved and finalized by the Comptroller, the Attorney General and Justice Demarest. So why are they redoing the wiring and putting in NYU computers? The pediatric bays are smaller than regular patient bays. If I go into the ER now, would that affect my healthcare?”

Jo Anne Simon, 52nd Assembly District Leader and Assembly candidate, said, “My concern is that patient care will be affected, and that this is precipitous. It’s being done without notice, and we have no way of assuring that the ER services that are supposed to be there are going to be provided in a quality manner. There does not seen to be an immediate need to look at the wiring in anticipation of taking over this hospital in September. The necessary approvals haven’t been obtained. They’re jumping the gun, and that’s been emblematic of the way they’ve operated here all along.”

Patient Debra Bingham said, “I’m just saddened by the loss of our full-service hospital and by the destruction of our hospital. We really need a full-service hospital here.”

Margaret Weber, who said that LICH had been a life-saver for family members, pointed to a giant banner hanging outside LICH’s ER which proclaimed the site to be a 24/7 designated stroke center. “I’ve been here with my husband and son numerous times. My husband had a stroke, and was treated here. The head of the stroke unit lived down the street and came in on Saturday night and treated my husband here in the excellent stroke unit, which doesn’t exist anymore, and it’s heartbreaking.”

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