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Brooklyn Health Partners jilted by LICH

Stephon Johnson | 5/8/2014, 12:33 p.m.
Just when you thought the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) was nearing its conclusion, the winning bidder has met a ...
LICH

Just when you thought the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) was nearing its conclusion, the winning bidder has met a road block.

With negotiations allegedly falling through between Brooklyn Health Partners (BHP) and SUNY Downstate Medical Center, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called on SUNY to open negotiations with other bidders in the hopes of preserving health care services at LICH and not deny 75,000 Brooklynites a neighborhood health care facility.

“Our mission is to save and protect continuous, high-level health care at Long Island College Hospital, and this is the heart of the agreement made between SUNY and the community earlier this year,” said de Blasio. “To make good on this promise, those proposals that are unable to deliver health care at LICH should be bypassed, and those that can must be engaged. I urge SUNY to open a new dialogue with additional bidders so health care can be saved at this facility for tens of thousands of New Yorkers.” 

De Blasio’s suggestion that SUNY Downstate reopen the bid comes after reports that BHP’s proposal won’t meet the requirements of a settlement between community activists and elected officials.

Last month, SUNY announced the beginnings of negotiations on transferring ownership of LICH to BHP, who outlasted eight other proposals in the process. BHP, whose bid is worth $250 million, plans to maintain the facility as a full-time hospital, and part of the property would be assigned for commercial and residential use.

BHP’s proposed construction of a “Brooklyn Medical District” would include a 300- to 400-bed hospital and the utilization of reconstructed buildings for inpatient services, including medical and surgical; pediatrics; intensive care; coronary care; maternity; pediatric intensive care unit; physical medicine and rehabilitation; adult inpatient psychiatry; and outpatient services, including emergency, ambulance, prenatal and family planning, primary and specialty care, rehabilitation therapy, ambulatory and mental health.

LICH came close to closing last summer, but activists, community leaders, the New York State Nurses Association and de Blasio (who was the city public advocate at the time) underwent legal action to prevent closure.

But BHP says that SUNY isn’t playing fair and hasn’t negotiated in good faith from the start. BHP filed a complaint with the Brooklyn Supreme Court, arguing that SUNY is torpedoing talks and imposing arbitrary deadlines and requirements on the transfer process. The winning bidder said SUNY failed to provide the company with a draft of a lease for the temporary hospital facility. BHP feels that the decision to possibly move on is premature. According to reports, BHP officials feel that getting the law involved is the only way for SUNY to act right.

In a letter to SUNY sent to the AmNews, BHP asked for an extension of the deadline to complete the transaction.

But another bidder who lost out isn’t giving up on their chance to access LICH just yet.

According to reports, private equity firm Trindade Value Partners told SUNY officials last week that they would add $90 million to its LICH bid to keep the facility under new management in order to cover any possible operating losses or pension liabilities or other related liabilities for a one-year period under a temporary operator. The offer to sweeten the bid, however, might be invalid under the settlement’s terms. Also, like BHP, Trindade doesn’t have a hospital partner.

That left community organizations like the Wyckoff Gardens Residents Association out in the cold wagging their fingers at SUNY. In a emailed statement to the AmNews, the group said they were “deeply disappointed that SUNY has chose to terminate negotiations with Brooklyn Health Partners. In light of BHP producing all of their requested documents and the $25 million down payment, we will be meeting with the other plaintiffs to determine how to best respond for our last best chance for a full-service hospital, as was the goal of the stipulation order signed by SUNY.”