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Two hospitals, one fate

Stephon Johnson | 1/23/2014, 1:41 p.m.
Interfaith Medical Center (IMC) and Long Island College Hospital (LICH) are both operating with one figurative leg as management looks ...
Long Island College Hospital is here to stay

Interfaith Medical Center (IMC) and Long Island College Hospital (LICH) are both operating with one figurative leg as management looks to cut off what’s left. However, its employees and patients aren’t going down easily.

Over the weekend, workers and patients held a rally outside of IMC, located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and pleaded for New York to give them the funds they’re owed in order to operate the facility through the month of February. According to an IMC spokesperson, the hospital is owed $3.5 million from the state.

Hospital officials also noted that the state is attempting to cut off the funds IMC is owed because the hospital’s board voted to continue operating the medical center’s clinics rather than hand over the reins to Kingsbrook Medical Center. This was confirmed in a New York Daily News report, which described how the state’s Dormitory Authority took the board to task for not letting Kingsbrook take over.

IMC almost closed in December but avoided that fate due to a last-minute financial reprieve via emergency state funding that is supposed to keep the facility afloat until March 2014. However, most of those funds still haven’t been released. To add insult to injury, IMC’s CEO Patrick Sullivan was forced to resign by the hospital’s board of trustees after he ordered ambulances diverted from IMC, drawing the ire of workers in the process.

Sullivan’s order was subsequently lifted.

Clinging to life in another part of Brooklyn is LICH, where last week, for a second straight day, LICH nurses, caregivers and patients gathered outside the hospital and gave speeches to the media before making their way to Albany on a bus. Once in Albany, the group presented the State University of New York (SUNY)board of trustees with a petition featuring 18,000 signatures to keep the hospital open.

Fortis Property Group scared many of LICH’s constituents with a bid to SUNY that would have leased the hospital’s main building to ProHealth for a “medical mall.” The rest of the building would’ve been developed for condos. After SUNY’s board of trustees suspended a December vote on the proposal, Fortis revised their offer to include NYU Langone Medical Center and Brooklyn’s Lutheran Medical Center as partners.

That proposal would, however, replace most of the hospital with luxury condos and an outpatient facility with emergency services. According to charts displayed at a recent meeting, NYU would help provide a freestanding emergency room, an urgent care center, a radiology and diagnostic center and six specialty centers that include primary care, psychiatry, cancer care, cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonary and orthopedics.

Not to be outdone, Brooklyn Hospital Center also announced a revised proposal and announced plans to team with a developer to create 1,000 units of housing and an outpatient medical facility with 24-hour emergency services. Of the 1,000 units, 350 would be labeled “affordable,” with the rest being priced at market value.

One problem with Brooklyn Hospital’s revision: After its initial proposal was rejected, SUNY now holds the view that Brooklyn Hospital is no longer part of the request for proposal (RFP) process and is working strictly with Fortis Property Group instead. According to Crain’s New York Business, in a letter to SUNY’s board of trustees, Brooklyn Hospital General Counsel Stacy Friedman said they deserve a redo as well.

Friedman said the revised plan brings “a community-based hospital with the development of affordable housing [that will] overwhelmingly and uniquely will meet the objectives of the RFP,” and stated that she wanted to “avail ourselves of the same opportunity to revise our proposal, which you have clearly afforded to one other respondent, Fortis.”

It was rumored that SUNY would make a decision earlier this week, but board members denied it immediately. Still, more rumors have surfaced that LICH’s fate, good or bad, would be sealed by the end of this week.

The workers, caregivers and patients can only hope that their haymaker punch in the last round yields good results.