Fortis Property Looking to Buy Long Island College Hospital

By Sarah Matheson, Epoch Times
December 17, 2013 Updated: December 18, 2013

NEW YORK—Fortis Property Group, in partnership with ProHEALTH, is the favored bidder to buy the financially troubled Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

The proposal would see LICH become a mixed-use residential property, with 90,000 square feet dedicated to health care, and an additional 15,000 square feet for community space fit for social- or health-related services, like a federally qualified health clinic.

Board members of the State University of New York (SUNY), which owns the hospital, were divided at a meeting in Manhattan on Tuesday. They moved to postpone vote which will allow the hospital to enter negotiations with the Brooklyn-based developer.

Board Chairman H. Carl McCall suggested that the board see whether Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio could push the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation to take over operation of the hospital next year.

De Blasio, in his role as public advocate, campaigned to keep LICH open, attending a number of press conferences and publishing studies about the health needs of the community. Earlier this year, he was arrested for civil disobedience outside a SUNY board meeting in Manhattan.

SUNY’s newly appointed Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Lora Lefebvre said that under Fortis Property Group’s proposal, LICH would maintain urgent and dental care, physiotherapy, and rehab facilities. Lefebvre came into her new role earlier this month from a deputy director position at the New York State Department of Health.

Lefebvre said Fortis Property’s purchase “broadly followed” the three appraisals SUNY had on the property’s value, which ranged from $228 million to $278 million. The purchase would be 65 percent debt-funded and 35 percent equity-funded, with letters of intent for financing already secured.

“SUNY will be left stranded with significant liabilities we will have to pay” after the purchase is completed, Lefebvre said.

LICH supporters have rallied for months to save the hospital from closure, citing rumors that SUNY was looking at turning the hospital into condos.

The hospital is currently losing $13 million a month, and seeing 50–70 patients through the emergency department, with only a handful of inpatients.