Reporter’s Notebook: Cuomo will decide LICH’s future

The Brooklyn Paper
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Earlier this month, when Gov. Cuomo warned President Obama that Brooklyn’s hospitals were in crisis, the question on the minds of many of the residents fighting the planned closure of Long Island College Hospital was “What took him so long?”

Those hoping to save the hospital, which was scheduled to close this month before its operator, the State University of New York, shifted gears and decided to sell it to another hospital rather than real estate developers, wanted the governor to step in from the outset of the crisis.

“I don’t know if anyone really knows what’s going through Andrew Cuomo’s mind,” said Roy Sloane, an advocate for the hospital and the head of the Cobble Hill Association. “Everybody is telling me that he pulls all the strings and makes all the decisions.”

The fact is Cuomo appoints 15 of the 18 members of the state university board of trustees, which voted to close the Cobble Hill hospital, and he appointed Nirav Shah, the commissioner of the Department of Health, who would ultimately be responsible for rubber stamping the hospital’s closure — undoubtedly with Cuomo’s blessing.

Cuomo claims in his letter to Obama’s Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius that if the state doesn’t get $10 billion, Long Island College, its sister hospital SUNY Downstate in East Flatbush, Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Brookdale Medical Center in Brownsville could all be shuttered. The request for federal funds to ward off Brooklyn’s looming hospital implosion could be a sign that the governor actually wants LICH to survive.

So if a Long Island College Hospital closure was in the cards, what changed the governor’s mind? And what is his plan for the hospital now?

Sloane suggested that Cuomo might only be speaking out now because he has his eye on the presidency, and has decided that letting this hospital fail will come back to haunt him.

Other advocates were simply glad Cuomo finally broke his silence, claiming he is at least speaking up for the troubled Brooklyn institution.

“Gov. Cuomo is showing incredible leadership in helping to save LICH and keep Brooklyn hospitals open for care,” said Jill Furillo, the executive director of the New York State Nurses Association. “The governor and his staff are really going to bat in Washington to get the funding that Brooklyn hospitals need.”

That may be true, but if Long Island College Hospital is to be saved, it will take more than Gov. Cuomo stepping up to the plate.

Because he is not just a player in this game, he is the manager, general manager, and owner.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:11 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reader feedback

Phil from Ft. Greene says:
Roy Sloane is right on the money.

This crisis was engineered over several administrations (30 years worth) who ignored the deliberate starving of Brooklyn hospitals by reimbursement rates that gave Manhattan hospitals five times the money for the same services. Why? Well a search through all their campaign donations might turn up a few clues!

Then all that nonsense with the Berger studies at the very start of this Cuomo administration put a bullseye on every hospital that didn't have the governor's good friend representing them in Albany. Remember, LICH almost closed in the first month of his administration.

I don't care why he's stepping up to bat as long as he makes things right. He's got a lot to prove to the people of Brooklyn after everything he's done to get us to this crisis point!
May 23, 2013, 7:47 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
The state collects tens of millions of dollars on surcharges on Hospital Bills and special charges on insurance(that are highest in NY City). Much of this money goes into the state's general fund. They never account for these funds. Hospital reimbursement rates have been cut by the Federal government over the last 10 years. Does Cuomo really think that this Congress, who almost did not pass Sandy aid, will send anything to NY?
May 23, 2013, 9:12 am
Bill from Crown Heights says:
Cumo wanted to be able to say he tried to get money to keep the hospital open. Then when no money comes he will blame Feds for LICH closing. It was Cuomo all along with this little act as the behind the scenes person making all the decesions. As far as the Presidency. Cuomo is already done. He looked terrible during Hurricane Sandy and the issues with Brooklyn Hospitals have made him look no better.
May 24, 2013, 8:36 am
John from Brooklyn Heights says:
This isn't a conspiracy.

LICH does not get enough patients and those patients it gets do not pay or have poorly reimbursing government insurance (ie Medicaid/Medicare). The Manhattan hospitals stay in business because they have privately insured patients, those with private insurance and a choice in Brooklyn go to those hospitals.

Short of a massive and ongoing infusion of cash from local/federal government, LICH will not survive. It has been in the process of being shut down for so long now that there isn't even much left to salvage.

Brooklyn needs high quality healthcare, but at this point I don't think that saving LICH gets us closer to that goal. (If Downstate is in trouble, it is much more important to save that.)
May 28, 2013, 11:02 am
we did it says:
SUNY didn't get as far as it did in trying to close LICH without Gov Cuomo steering things behind the scenes. Cuomo was the one who sent Berger to head a task force to close hospitals in Brooklyn in the first place. The ONLY reason he switched gears was because WE forced him to. The amount of pressure WE put on him & the DOH is what got the closure plan canceled. When we got the 2 restraining orders & built a strong movement of protest, we turned up the heat & publicity. The babies stroller brigaide thru CH/BH & then 500 people rallying in RedHook contradicted SUNY's claims that the community had "abandoned the hospital." He stepped up because we forced him to. Closing LICH to promote his good buddy's client was not looking good on him. Now we have to stay on him & not let him off the hook by blaming the feds for not coughing up $. Must admit though it was funny reading in the news his pleas to the feds.... he gave them the same argument We've been telling him HIM for months. Brooklyn Needs its hospitals.
May 30, 2013, 12:21 am
Robert Pepper from Brooklyn Heights says:
Been a homeowner here since 1966, used LICH alot , 3 babies, numerous ER visits & operations. Wife with cancer & bowel resection causing numerous blockages calling for ER. Methodist overrun now, no idea where we could get quick ER care! Gov. Cuomo, if this is your doing, & looks like it is, shame on you for causing so many NY voters major concern about their & families healthcare & possible unnecessary death.
Aug. 6, 2013, 12:09 am

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