Long Island College Hospital laid off 100 employees this week in the first wave of what will likely be a much-larger downsizing to save the tottering hospital from closure.
Employees arrived at the 150-year-old medical center on Monday to find an e-mail from LICH’s parent company, Continuum Health Partners, announcing that 100 people would lose their jobs and another 50 currently open positions would be eliminated. Continuum claimed that the current reduction was only seven percent of the workforce.
The memorandum from Continuum CEO Stanley Brezenoff said LICH’s dire finances necessitated the pink slips.
“Staffing is not presently in line with actual inpatient utilization,” he wrote. “To more accurately match staffing with our census, today we are making staff reductions by eliminating 150 positions throughout the organization.”
He indicated that another round of mass layoffs would occur if the state approves his request to shut the maternity, obstetrics and dentistry departments.
In spite of public exhortations from Brezenoff for the state to hurry up and issue a ruling, the Department of Health is tight-lipped about its review.
But they can’t stay mum for long. The Health Department has until Nov. 18 to approve or reject Continuum’s plan dated Aug. 18 to shut the maternity ward. It will rule on the pediatrics and dentistry closings by Dec. 29, because those shutdowns were submitted later.
All of LICH’s 2,000-plus employees knew that jobs were on the line when the department closings were announced this summer and fall. But on Tuesday, many burst into rage outside the Cobble Hill hospital at mention of the world “management.”
“Am I angry? Hell yes,” said a longtime administrator. “You work here 20 years, so your heart is in it. We were one big happy family.”
Other employees told The Brooklyn Paper that they were still focused on their work even though they didn’t yet know if they were clear of the firing squad.
“We’re so busy right now we can’t stop to worry,” said one staffer from the obstetrics department.
It was only last Tuesday that politicians and other LICH supporters rallied on the Hicks Street side of the hospital. Borough President Markowitz, perhaps anticipating Tuesday’s stunning layoffs, said that Continuum was “intent on bleeding this hospital to death.”
The Beep seethed again this week, saying that area businesses would feel the pinch with fewer hospital staff spending money in the neighborhood.
But his harshest words were to denounce the impending loss of medical services.
“No one wins in this situation — except Continuum — which apparently does not seek ‘continuum’ at all, but rather an abrupt end to critical health care,” he said in a statement to The Brooklyn Paper on Wednesday.