On June 4, 2013, State Senator Eric Adams prodded the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center (SUNY) about their submitted Sustainability Plan. In our last issue, the Star-Revue reported that Adams “hammered” SUNY about their plans for Long Island College Hospital (LICH). He pointed asked if SUNY would be able to “keep the lights” on at LICH. When SUNY did not assure him that they would, he reminded them that LICH must be maintained as a full service hospital, not just – in his words – a “healthcare service.”
However, one week later on June 11, 2013, Adams, along with Senator Kevin Parker, introduced Bill S5741-2013 – known as the “Brooklyn Health Trust Act” – into legislation. The bill, “read twice and ordered printed,” was introduced to the Health Committee to establish the Brooklyn Health Trust and Health Commission with funds from the real estate sale of LICH.
The legislation falls under Public Health Law as “an act to amend the public health law.” The bill defines itself as, “A trust to be known as the ‘Brooklyn Health Trust’ is hereby created under the jurisdiction of the department and its existence shall commence with the appointment of the members of the board as provided in this article.”
The Brooklyn Borough President would serve as the chair of the board and would appoint: three “resident medical professionals” from Brooklyn, one medical school member; two Brooklyn members from “resident business;” two members from non-profit organizations; and two community representatives. The mayor would appoint five people “among the general hospitals” in Brooklyn based on “their knowledge and background” or their “experience and knowledge in the field of ambulatory health care.”
Section 813.1 of the article defines the purpose of the trustees to “provide ambulatory health care to low and moderate income residents, the elderly, frail and disabled persons of the county of Kings.
Section 813.2 explains how the trust will be funded. “The trust shall be funded from all monies derived from the sale or conveyance of Long Island College Hospital as described in this article.”
Section 814 reiterates the funding “in an amount equal to the proceeds derived from the sale of assets of Long Island College and the Downstate at LICH Holding Company.” Eighteen LICH buildings are listed as assets to be sold – including the Pollack, Othmer and Fuller Pavillions, which make up the main hospital building.
Section 818 allots $1 million “for a study of the health needs of the residents of the County of Kings and prepare a plan to address such needs, in part, by the trust.”
Section 818.2 reads simply, “This act shall take effect immediately.”
According to sources, the bill was introduced but never discussed among the committee, who met twice after its inception. The bill was never sent to the State Assembly, where it would also have been voted on before being put into action. When the legislative session ended, the bill was effectively dead.
However, the question still remains as to why Senator Adams fought so strongly for the continued operations at LICH as a full service hospital just one week before introducing this piece of legislation. Perhaps as the potential future Brooklyn Borough President, he is looking after the health and welfare of SUNY. However, if this is a means to appease SUNY, it will surely compromise his standings with the communities that would be so greatly affected by the “proceeds from the sale of LICH surplus assets.”