A bit after one pm, on the 6th of September, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio stepped up to the makeshift podium across from Long Island College Hospital and greeted his LICH supporters. The group, made up of employees, former patients, local residents and politicians, and a press corps that grows bigger each week, meet across from the hospital on the Hicks Street side had been waiting patiently for de Blasio, who had been announced at arriving at 12:45 with a big piece of news concerning ambulance service.
De Blasio greeted the crowd with a big smile and a big hello. The response was muted, and de Blasio looked up and wondered if he was in the right place “You are LICH people, right?” With that the place exploded with cheers and the press event proceeded, punctuated later by a LICH ambulance racing by with sirens blaring, also bringing raucous cheering.
The big news of the day is another court order coming from Judge Demarest. Demarest is the judge who initially approved the transfer of LICH assets to SUNY Downstate, and on August 20th, reversed the transfer, citing SUNY’s bad faith in running the hospital, and their attempts at closing and selling off the real estate.
That original order which called for an immediate transfer, was later stayed by Demarest to September 6th, in order to give time for a smooth transition. Today, she extended the stay to the 11th, as per SUNY’s request, but with some very harsh provisos for SUNY Downstate.
The order begins by requiring the resumption of full ambulance services at LICH as of 3 PM, September 6.
The decision and order continues:
“The Court rejects the suggestion by SUNY that efforts to restore services at LICH be limited ot an “urgent care center” or a “free standing emergency department” without in-patient services. This Court directs immediate and continuing efforts to restore full acute-care services as quickly as possible, including full operation of the Emergency Department, unrestricted acceptance of ambulances and re-opening of the Intensive Care Unit. Give the current devastated level of services at LICH, it will be difficult to reach the goal of full services by September 11, 2013, but a fully operational Emergency Department, ICU and ambulance service must be achieved by that date.”
The order goes on to request from the state Attorney General copies of all reports filed since 2000 relating to the Othmer Fund. The Fund was a bequest of over $150 million dollars given to the hospital in the 1990’s when LICH was an independent entity. It is speculated that the fund was ransacked first by Continuum and then by SUNY Downstate, both eager to get hold of the money. This gift was made by the Donald and Mildred Othmer, who lived a modest life in Brooklyn Heights. It so happens that they were friends with Warren Buffet and original investors with his Berkshire Hathaway company back in the 1950’s.
Finally, the Order commands SUNY to provide the court with all responses to the RFP that was issued back in July seeking buyers for the hospital. She also demanded the names of the people will form a group to review and evaluate the proposals, and ordered that the group be a broad representation of all interests, with the paramount goal being “the charitable mission of LICH and the charitable intent of the Othmers.
We also heard reports that two ombudsman, one requested by LICH and one requested by SUNY are on the premises to hear requests and complaints. At some point the judge will choose between the two. We also heard that there are 18 proposals, and finally that SUNY is trying to nickel and dime the doctors and nurses as respect to pay.