Ambulance Services Restored at Brooklyn’s LICH

By Sarah Matheson, Epoch Times
September 6, 2013 7:05 pm Last Updated: September 6, 2013 7:05 pm

NEW YORK—Ambulances are returning to Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn today following a Wednesday court order. Emergency services and intensive care services will be restored at the troubled hospital next week.

SUNY Downstate, which operates LICH, had barred ambulances at the hospital since June 20, and filed closing proceedings with the NY State Department of Health.

Judge Carolyn Demarest ruled Sept. 3 that ambulance services must be restored Sept. 6. Emergency rooms are to return to full operation and intensive care units are to reopen by Sept. 11. She also ordered that the hospital must restore all acute-care services as soon as possible.

Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio said he had confirmation from the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) that ambulances were being directed to the hospital Friday. De Blasio was speaking at a press conference outside LICH Sept. 6.

Jeff Strabone, a Cobble Hill Association board member, said the community was “elated that Long Island College has been saved.” 

Strabone said so many groups had been involved in campaigning to keep the hospital open, including nurses, doctors, elected officials, and lawyers. “And we are especially grateful to Bill de Blasio, who used all the resources of his office to save this hospital,” Strabone said.

The Wednesday ruling also required SUNY Downstate to account for the Othmer Endowment Fund by Sept. 20—a $130 million endowment gifted to LICH by the Othmer family.

SUNY Downstate is also required to present copies of all proposals received from potential operators of the hospital to the court by Sept. 11. De Blasio said at the press conference that seven operators had sent proposals to SUNY Downstate.

Council member Brad Lander said the decision about who would operate LICH over the long term would have to be made by the Health Department, SUNY Downstate, and the governor.

He said implementing a new operator for LICH was the most important thing for the community right now, and that it would also save SUNY Downstate money in the long run. The longer the process takes the “more money SUNY is going to lose,” he said.

A spokesman for SUNY Downstate earlier told Epoch Times that LICH was losing $4 million per month at the start of the year, but the losses had grown to $15 million per month.

In an audit of SUNY Downstate and LICH released in January, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office said mismanagement, implementation of a faulty computer system, state reductions in Medicaid reimbursements, and rising employment costs negotiated with the unions by the state, had all added to LICH’s financial troubles.