A fLICHer of hope! The state restores ambulances to LICH, but not without a fight

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Ambulances are back at Long Island College Hospital but the state is still resisting pressure to make the medical center whole again.

The State University of New York stopped diverting ambulances on Friday afternoon after two and a half months of ignoring judges’ orders to restore emergency services to the beleaguered Cobble Hill institution, but not before trying to strike a deal to limit the hospital’s revival. Hospital staffers hailed the move as the beginning of a reversal of the state’s efforts to shut the place down, which began in February.

“This is a tremendous victory for our patients,” said Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, a nurses union fighting keep the hospital alive. “LICH nurses are standing by, ready to provide the very best care for patients. From the beginning, this fight has been about protecting care for our patients.”

The restoration came at the behest of Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Carolyn Demarest, who for weeks has demanded that the hospital be removed from state hands and restored to full service. The ambulance diversion officially ended at 3 pm on Friday and at least two ambulances had brought patients to the emergency room by the evening, a union spokeswoman said.

Demarest initially ordered the ambulances back by Aug. 26, but she extended the deadline to Sept. 3 and finally to Friday after the state and hospital doctors said the hollowed-out facility was unprepared to bring back emergency care.

In her latest order, Demarest revealed that the state had asked for the service restoration be limited to an “urgent care center” or a “free-standing emergency department” in exchange for the return of ambulances. Demarest rejected the request.

The new deadline for restoring full medical services is Sept. 11, though the judge acknowledged that it might not be feasible.

“Given the current devastated level of services at LICH, it will be difficult to reach the goal of full services by Sept. 11, 2013, but a fully operational emergency department, [intensive care unit,] and ambulance service must be achieved by that date,” she wrote in her order.

The state only has control of the hospital while doctors look for another operator, thanks to an earlier, bombshell ruling by Demarest that accused state officials of taking over with the intention of shutting the hospital down and selling off the valuable land it sits on. The property boasts views of New York Harbor and experts value it at more than $500 million. The state also owes money borrowed from the hospital’s $140-million Othmer Endowment Fund, which state managers say they will have a hard time paying now that they cannot pawn off hospital buildings at will. Demarest has demanded the state pay back the money and provide a full accounting of how it spent hospital money.

Also this week, Judge Johnny Lee Baynes appointed a second ombudsman to watch for state malfeasance at the hospital and report it to the court.

Long Island College Hospital opened in 1858 as the first teaching hospital in Brooklyn and its ambulance service, begun in 1873, was also the borough’s first.

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Marie Parquay from Red Hook says:
Andrew Cuomo should be impeached for what he tried to pull here; what a vile, duplicitous, corrupt and corrupting creep.

Also-- in much happier news-- Jill Furillo has nice legs!

Congrats and thanks to all who have fought for an honest accounting of LICH.
Sept. 7, 2013, 1:57 am
Obamacare from And how? says:
I thought Obamacare was going to solve all the health problems in the U.S.A. What role is Obamacare playing here?
Sept. 7, 2013, 6:04 am
Barb from Bay Ridge says:
I was trying to decide which one "Obamacare from And how?" knows less about: the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act or Long Island College Hospital when I realized that he or she knows nothing about either.
Sept. 7, 2013, 5:18 pm
maria magliocco from carroll gardens says:
am so very happy that we got back our lich
Sept. 7, 2013, 8:44 pm
Ali from Sunset Park says:
LICH also gave birth to Downstate Medical Center after WWII. The child tried to kill its parent after vowing to protect her. Governor Cuomo has not heard the last of LICH - any future political opponent of his is sure to bring up how he stood by as his henchmen shut down a quality hospital as Brooklyn burned in a heatwave and a hospital crisis spread across the borough. It's equally disgusting that SUNY would "borrow" millions from LICH & then expect to pay LICH back by taking more of LICH's assets away from it (by selling off the whole place for parts). What a racket. No wonder the DA Rackets Division is investigating them.
Sept. 7, 2013, 10:07 pm
Bill M from Remsen Street says:
WHY NYC Needs Hospitals to Close

LICH needs to change and become profitable or it has to close. The state is not supporting it now so it will have a very short timetable to get it's act together.
Sept. 9, 2013, 3:27 pm
Mike Obermuller from Central Brooklyn says:
STOP WITH THE FAIRY TALES LICH PEOPLE. The 990 IRS tax statements from LICH shows a $22-million loss in 2010 and $32-million loss in 2009, with a $26-million loss for 2008. LICH is a money pit and will be in bankruptcy in six months. LICH is loosing money hand over fist. LICH is a money pit and now that it lost it's sugar daddy NYS it is over for it.
Sept. 9, 2013, 3:29 pm
Angela Profaci from South Brooklyn says:
Mike, and you have access to what accounting books and background again? Thanks for sharing. I await all revelations a man of your experience and fiduciary shrewdness can surely provide.
Sept. 9, 2013, 8:17 pm
Mike2 from Bklyn says:
Mike is a troll - posting all the same thing under different names all over the internet on every LICH story he can find. Ignore him.
Sept. 10, 2013, 12:19 am
Amethyst10 from NYC says:
Who is Berger to decide that any hospital has "outlived its usefulness" or to tell any community that the services of its only hospital are "no longer essential"? Where does this investment banker get the power to tell citizens of this city to get used to using primary care centers & then get their hospitals shut down before there even are primary care centers? Berger's own year-long evaluation of Brooklyn healthcare with the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) that he chaired actually recommended that LICH be expanded & utilized to its fullest potential - not closed. More than a year after he made that report, he & his SUNY cronies actively worked to kill LICH. LICH did not "decline". LICH was constantly full to occupancy & well-utilized. To advance their agenda, first Berger & friends lied about the number of operational beds at LICH & then misrepresented the hospital as "half empty" when its real number of beds were actually always 90 % occupied. That was done to lay the ground work for their claim that the hospital wasn't used or needed so they could manufacture an excuse for its closure. Then they took direct actions to sabatoge, starve, & suffocate LICH for financial gain - a $1billion real estate deal from the LICH properties. What Berger & SUNY did was try to strangle LICH with their bare hands & then claim that the old gal just choked to death. Thankfully the people & the judges saw exactly what was going on & put a stop to it. Before any hospital is closed there must be needs assessments & impact studies. Berger's opinion is not an assessment of a community's healthcare needs or a study of the impact that losing its hospital will have on a community's healthcare access. Before any hospital is closed, there must be something else already put in place to replace it. The decisions for a community's healthcare must be made by the stakeholders who will be affected by those decisions - not by Wall St bankers sitting far away in their gold-lined ivory towers.
Sept. 10, 2013, 12:22 am

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