Curtain closes on Long Island College Hospital, by Kimberly Gail Price

On February 8, 2013, SUNY Downstate Medical Center voted unanimously to shut down Long Island College Hospital, triggering a nearly fifteen month battle for a land grab.

It was a bittersweet last day for LICH’s ICU nursing staff. (Photo by Price)

It was a bittersweet last day for LICH’s ICU nursing staff. (Photo by Price)

On Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm, the majority of staff was being cleared out of the once vibrant hospital.

After many months in the court of Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes, the deal all came to a climax earlier that day when Peebles successfully negotiated the deal with Downstate that would allow a “full-service” emergency department and an urgent care center that will include primary, specialty and diagnostic services.

A true full-service emergency room (ER) relies on other specialties to provide follow up care. Free standing ERs do not offer other critical care services necessary to save lives. For example, a patient suffering a heart attack would only have access to stabilization, possibly a minor operation if absolutely necessary, before being transported to another hospital miles and minutes away.

Nurses, doctors and EMTs have said on numerous occasions that any time a critically impaired patient is transferred, the risk of death is greatly increased during the trip to the next facility. Now, for LICH, all patients in need of additional services must be sent elsewhere.

Being transferred to another hospital is not simply a matter of the nearest hospital. The chosen facility must have an available bed and adequate staffing levels. If the nearest hospital is overwhelmed with patients – as Brooklyn Hospital, New York Methodist, and Lutheran were last summer when ambulances were diverted – the patient would have to be transported to the nearest available hospital.

Last year, ICU patients at LICH were being transferred and far away as Staten Island and Queens because there were no available hospital beds throughout the entire borough of Brooklyn. As the population of Brooklyn continues to rise, the problem will become even more exacerbated.

LICH previously had 16 operating rooms. After a deal with Peebles is reached, there will be none. ICU will be discontinued. Obstetrics and pediatrics will no longer exist at the facility. Numerous other services will be discontinued as well.

If Peebles cannot reach a deal with SUNY Downstate by June 6, they will be disqualified. Fortis would then be eligible to negotiate an agreement. Fortis also would only be offering a standalone emergency room.

Under the newest settlement, an independent Community Health Assessment must be completed. If the assessment finds needs of the community not being met, Peebles has agreed to provide those services if they can afford to do so. With the real estate deal raking in millions for the real estate corporation, logically Peebles should be able to afford to do so.
If the assessment finds that a full service hospital is needed in the area, the possibility that LICH will be revived still exists. But many believe now that the hospital is shut down, reopening will not be a feasible option.

The health assessment should begin in the near future and will take at least 2-3 months. However a tentative date for the process to begin has not yet been determined.
At the present time, ambulatory services are scheduled to resume July 15. Peebles has suggested that this date may be changed at some point.

All non-ER hospital staffers were told they would be escorted out of the LICH buildings at 11:59 pm Thursday night. Fearing a large media presence, SUNY Downstate told employees arriving for their 7:30 pm shift that they could leave any time before midnight because all patients had been transferred out of the hospital earlier in the afternoon.
Jim Walden, lead attorney for LICH called the settlement “a bitter, sweet day.”

After the final decision had been handed down, the atmosphere in the hospital was somber. Colleagues embraced, exchanged phone numbers, and took pictures of their final moments at the institution they had worked so hard to preserve.

While the outcome of whose iron fist the keys to LICH will end up in is still undecided, the overall fate of the 155 year old hospital is bleak. Without one more last minute miracle, the fight for LICH is finally over.

Factoids:

  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center originated as a residency at LICH in 1969. Downstate has essentially murdered their parent by boarding up LICH.
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sister was dismissed as an intern in the radiology department of LICH many years ago.
  • Brooklyn Hospital is a client of Sachs Consulting. Jeffery Sachs is Governor Cuomo’s closest friend; Brooklyn Hospital is the closest hospital to LICH.
  • Peebles was ranked as the second bidder behind Brooklyn Health Partners (BHP) in the scoring process for bidders. After BHP was eliminated, Peebles was the next choice. Although Peebles was rated sixth under the technical criteria, they were ranked first under financial criteria. Only Downstate scorers were allowed to vote on the financial criteria.
  • If Peebles had not been ranked highest financially, they would not have been ranked second overall.
  • Peebles also was the highest bidder for LICH. They refused to reveal their financial bid until all other bids were finalized to avoid being outbid. After all bids had been revealed, Peebles drove their bid up just beyond the second highest bidder.
  • Despite the technical criteria of the settlement being written to encourage a full-service hospital, one SUNY scorer graded all four full service hospital bids zero.
  • For many years, Red Hook was designated as a federal health professional shortage area. There are not enough health services or professionals in the area to provide comprehensive care to the population.
  • Although the designation is federal, New York State actually makes the decision based on the ration of medical professionals and population.
  • Last year, just as the LICH battle was heating up, the designation for Red Hook was withdrawn.
  • A Department of Health employee explained that the withdrawal was due to either more health professionals in the area or “the population has decreased – which I seriously doubt.”
  • DOH was unable to provide any statistical evidence for the withdrawal; to the best of our knowledge, no new significant health care or professionals have become available within the immediate area.
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One Response to Curtain closes on Long Island College Hospital, by Kimberly Gail Price

  1. bklynnow says:

    When the community associations decided to allow LICH to close for what they think will be a temporary period of time, they gave up the fight. Delusional. It will not be “feasible” for LIJ Peebles or whoever to re-open a hospital after it’s been decimated & devastated. LICH will never reopen as anything other than a condo tower. What did the community associations get for this, besides just their needs evaluation that peebles is not even required to act on?

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