The hospital may have a new handler in a week, according to Dr. Jon Berall, but that does nothing to assuage his anger at Gov. Cuomo’s employees

Court’s LICH watchdog goes rogue, calling state handling of hospital ‘evil,’ ‘arrogant’

The Brooklyn Paper
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A court-appointed watchdog tasked with making sure that the state doesn’t take any steps to close Long Island College Hospital is fed up with what he sees as state officials disobeying with impunity — and now he’s sounding the alarm.

Jon Berall, one of two ombudsmen for the troubled Cobble Hill hospital, says that the State University of New York, which runs the hospital, is continuing to gut it despite court orders mandating that the university restore services to the levels they were at on July 19, when the state first moved to close the medical facility for good. And state officials did it knowing full well that the closure would endanger the lives of the 60,000 who use its emergency room each year, according to Berall, who says their continued flouting of the court’s orders gave him a moral imperative to break his silence.

“It’s evil,” he said. “You don’t sacrifice people’s lives knowingly except in time of war and even then only with great considerat­ion.”

Also, the state’s move to shut down the institution was probably motivated by a greedy scheme to sell the real estate it sits on, valued at over $500-million, to luxury developers, Berall said.

“It shows stunning arrogance to try to turn a working hospital into luxury condominiu­ms,” said Berall, a doctor in Brooklyn Heights.

Berall was appointed by Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes in September to keep tabs on the condition of the infirmary and report back to the court. But one month into the process, despite the fact that the state allowed ambulances back and is supposed to be out of the picture sometime soon due to another bombshell ruling that stripped it of authority over the place, Berall is frustrated. According to him, the state is clearly breaking the law by firing doctors, further cutting services, and keeping the surgery and obstetric units closed, and he could only report those facts so long before he began to question the very premise of his position.

“Reality is, I don’t know what my job is about at this point,” Berall said. “I have been reporting for months that judge’s orders are not being followed but nothing has happened. I don’t actually know where that information goes.”

Berall said that court judges are still working to find an operator for the hospital, and may have a taker by the end of the month.

The state has been trying to close the 155-year-old institution since February.

— with Nathan Tempey

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
I'm sad about this LICH situation. Thanks for the updates.
Oct. 23, 2013, 9:38 am
Roy from Cobble Hill says:
The fact that SUNY DMC refused the Cobble Hill Association's request to hold a meeting at LICH as part of our continuing effort to keep the public informed on the legal status of the hospital strongly supports the allegations made by Dr. Berall. We applaud him for speaking out on this travesty. For those who would like to learn more about the future of our hospital are invited to the:

Long Island College Hospital Update:
Where are we now?
A report to the community on what we know.

* Legal actions
• Timeline
* Possible Outcomes

Jim Walden and Adam Cohen Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Toomas Sorra, MD, Concerned Physicians of LICH,
New York State Nurses Association and Local elected Officials

General Meeting: 7:30 PM
Date: Monday, October 28, 2013
Place: Cobble Hill Health Center,
Main Entrance: 380 Henry Street
All members of the public are invited. No admission charge

Please note that this meeting will NOT be held at LICH due to the intransigent and reckless leadership of SUNY Downstate. Our thanks to the Cobble Hill Health Center for graciously making space available for this meeting.
Oct. 23, 2013, 10:15 am
Bill says:
I disagree
Oct. 23, 2013, 1:09 pm
Bill says:
If you have proof bring it to the table. If not it borders on slander you can be sued for.
Oct. 23, 2013, 1:21 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
"Borders on slander" is meaningless. And before you really embarrass yourself you should learn something (outside of google-wiki) about defamation law.
Oct. 23, 2013, 2:34 pm
Bill says:
Dear Ed

I am glad so like to be so glib and rude. Learn your manners Ed. Yes it is close to slander and if there was any real proof, any at all, there would be legal problems for the people involved.
Oct. 23, 2013, 3:13 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
Bill wins today's vagary-and-incoherence award. Congrats, Bill.
Oct. 23, 2013, 4:49 pm
Jay from nyc says:
ok, I'll bite, please Bill, explain how its slander, and oh by the way slander is spoken, not printed, are you sure you did not get confused and mean libel?
Please explain how the doctrine of New York Times v. Sullivan does not apply, along with other relevant case law, which, since you seem to be so sure that this is, eh-hmm, cough, slander, you should be prepared to discuss . Go.
Oct. 23, 2013, 5:57 pm
Mike Obermuller says:
LICH Fact check: 2011 LICH 990 IRS tax return form X Line 26 total liabilities negative 428 million dollars. Line 16 total assets positive 350 million. So if NYS or SUNY sold everything we still see a negative 78 million balance. So the myth and fairy tale SUNY merged with LICH to sell the land is just that a myth and lie!
Oct. 24, 2013, 1:25 pm
JAY from nyc says:
mike that is not the allegation that was made, but thanks for coming out. And I see Bill has decided to be a no show after being called out on it.
Oct. 24, 2013, 6:02 pm
Remsen Street Dweller from Brooklyn Heights says:
Despite numerous court rulings against them and 9 months of steady protesting by the community, politicians, nurses, doctors and patients -- SUNY had the audacity today to threaten layoffs and elimination of vital patient services.

Please join us for a MASSIVE PROTEST tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 25th) at LICH at 5PM, 339 Hicks St!
Oct. 24, 2013, 7:27 pm
Bill says:
Jay I see you are not so bright so I spell it out for you in terms so simple even you can understand. The doctor spoke those words and it becomes slander for him. Got it Jay. Best get to college Jay and learn a bit of the world before you say things that make no sense.
Oct. 25, 2013, 1:41 pm
JAY from NYC says:
no Bill, thats not what slander is, but nice try.
Its only slander if a) the doctor represents as fact things that are not true, and b) that he knows for a fact or should have reasonably known that the statements he made are not true. Can you prove that up?
Its a very high standard, and its very very difficult to get someone on a slander allegation.
That is the New York Times v. Sullivan Standard, which is settled long standing U.S. Supreme Court case law and which I asked you to discuss and which you did not.
So instead of calling me not so bright, try arguing the ACTUAL law, which you seem to not have a clue about.
So please explain a) Why settled U.S. Supreme Court case law does not apply here, and
b) Specify how the doctor knowingly lied, which would then perhaps place him in jeopardy of falling within NY Times v Sullivan.
Oh and by the way, PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, as fair warning, if you represent as fact that the doctor lied and you are knowingly not telling the truth, especially in light of what a couple of judges have found in regards to this situation, then you have perhaps committed libel yourself.
If you can't discuss the law, and specify how the doctor knowingly lied, then don't pretend you understand slander and libel law.
Finally Bill, last time I checked, law school is not a college level degree, its beyond college, so you don't even have that correct either, but hey thanks for calling me not so bright, coming from you that is an honor.
Oct. 25, 2013, 6:24 pm
hh from bklyn says:
Bill, last Wednesday Justice Demarest told SUNY the same thing: If you have proof (that SUNY did not commit fraud or sabotage LICH in their quest for a billion dollar cash cow to bail out the rest of their hemorrhaging enterprise), bring it to the table in an evidentiary hearing as the other side is ready to do to prove the contrary.

As there is much evidence ready to be presented that supports the good doctor's accusations, there's no need to concern yourself with libel or slander.

Oct. 25, 2013, 11:04 pm
hh from bklyn says:
An excellent point by Jay is worth repeating:

"PLEASE TAKE NOTICE, as fair warning, if you represent as fact that the doctor lied and you are knowingly not telling the truth, especially in light of what a couple of judges have found in regards to this situation, then you have perhaps committed libel yourself."
Oct. 25, 2013, 11:06 pm
Arlene G. from CG says:
If SUNY is interested in ensuring that the many communities that depend on LICH continue to have vital healthcare services to meet their needs, or is actively pursuing a new operator for LICH as they claim, Why is SUNY making a last-gasp desperate effort this week to completely empty out the main building on Hicks St, shut it down, eliminate just about every single service from the hospital, & lay off hundreds of staff (illegally & in violation of the orders from 2 Supreme Court judges). My guess is that, as ombudsman, Dr Jon Berall sees firsthand exactly what is happening & he is telling the truth. And I thank him for bravely speaking out & sounding the alarm on this despicable scandal.
Oct. 26, 2013, 12:08 am
M. Ebersol from S Slope says:
Wow. All I can say is it's about time this publication finally printed something accurate about the SUNY scandal at LICH & got the story straight for once.

After months of reading stories here about LICH that were lacking in substance & balanced reporting, it seemed like the reporter was licking her chops & could have been happy to be making book on the closure date. But there was no shortage of clever headlines (LICHeroo! A fLICHer of hope, etc). I had to stop picking up this paper & start picking up the Daily competition more regularly. This is the first article in 10 months that has actually told some of the real story & got it right. Gotta wonder if they put a different reported on to write it. Whatever--- thanks for this. Thank you to the good doctor for blowing the whistle on what is being done to this community by these scoundrels. One question - WHEN is that judge going to slap on the hand cuffs & throw those bums in jail? THAT's when this assault on our communities & hospital will stop because THAT's when Governor Andrew Cuomo & H Carl McCall will start taking us seriously.
Oct. 26, 2013, 3:58 am
Lich from Cobble hill says:
When will all those SUNY mobsters be arrested!!!!!! Enough is enough already. They are putting our neighborhood in jeopardy with every stunt they pull. They are only getting away with this because Cuomo has already got his hands greased in this deal. Unreal ......
Oct. 26, 2013, 11:23 pm

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