State University of New York Downstate Medical Center may sell Long Island College Hospital for $500 million

Hospital may be sold

The Brooklyn Paper
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The State University of New York Downstate Medical Center has found a possible cure for its massive financial headache: shutting Long Island College Hospital and selling the property for a cool half-billion.

The state bought the 155-year-old Cobble Hill institution in 2011 – and in a interview Monday with the New York Daily News, university chairman Carl McCall said that the purchase “seemed not to have been a sound acquisition,” adding that university trustees could vote in less than a month to shutter the hospital.

The hospital’s property valuation comes from a Jan. 17 audit of Downstate by the New York State Comptroller, which estimated that sale of the institution’s property, building and equipment could net $200 to $500 million.

That money would come in handy for Downstate, which could go broke “within a matter of months” — perhaps as soon as May — the audit said. Downstate currently loses $3 million a week, with its losses from 2012 likely to exceed $200 million, according to the report.

The state’s purchase of the Cobble Hill hospital – which had $170 million in debt at the time – was a key factor in Downstate’s financial troubles, the report found.

But the hospital’s possible closure is prompting a backlash. On Friday, hundreds of nurses, doctors, community members, and elected officials rallied in front of the medical center chanting “Save LICH! Save LICH!”

“This is the only hospital that really serves at least this side of Brownstone Brooklyn,” said John Heyer II, a lifelong Carroll Gardens resident and member of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association. “It’s a real loss should we lose our emergency room and our other facilities.”

And would-be luxury condo developers are bound to be disappointed in any sale of the property, said Judy Stanton, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, pointing out that apart from the main hospital building, the remaining real estate is in a limited-height zoning district.

“From a cold, crass, real estate point of view, someone might find it more valuable, but there is not a housing shortage [in Cobble Hill],” Stanton said. “There’s a health-care shortage there.”

The hospital’s merger with Downstate was first seen as a boon to the long-suffering institution, which accrued its $170 million debt under previous owners Continuum Health Partners. But current hospital employees blamed both Continuum and Downstate for its woes.

“For the last 17 years we had no management. No leadership, nobody to check on our finances. ,” said Dr. Mike Atallah, the chief medical officer at the hospital, who has been working there for 40 years.

“Where are our patients going to go?” Atallah asked. “We need to keep this place going. It’s not fair to take from this neighborhood a hospital that provides care.”

Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.
Updated 5:39 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

no-permits from here says:
“From a cold, crass, real estate point of view, someone might find it more valuable, but there is not a housing shortage [in Cobble Hill],” Stanton said.

Jan. 30, 2013, 9:33 pm
Stinky from Carroll Gardens says:
I'd say there is a housing shortage in Cobble Hill, particularly of the affordable variety. More inventory should, in theory, affect that. But more people living here means a greater need for emergency and in-patient hospital services. This is a rather large area to have no full-service hospital. It will be a shame if this goes through. Certainly there must be other alternatives. Perhaps only selling part of the hospital rather than shuttering the whole thing?
Jan. 31, 2013, 8:16 am
JSB from Carroll Gardens says:
Let's be clear, no one in the brownstone neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill or Brooklyn Heights will set foot in LICH except in an emergency. My kids were born there, but every family I know treks to Manhattan for medical care. LICH has become the hospital of last resort for those without the means to choose a Manhattan hospital. Everyone else avoids LICH. If a community will not support their hospital by usnig it, they deserve to lose it. No hospital can be sustained by its emergency room.
Jan. 31, 2013, 9:28 am
Mochiman from Cobble Hill says:
What would it take to improve the reputation of LICH so more of the local community would use it? And why have Continuum and now Downstate been unable or unwilling to attract more patients from the well-populated local community? My kids were also born at LICH - our experience was excellent and we were able to walk there and home. But our neighbors thought we were crazy.
Jan. 31, 2013, 9:58 am
TIm A from Cobble HIll says:
Lich Rocks!!!
Jan. 31, 2013, 11:29 am
Duckie from Gowanus says:
The saddest part of this tale to me is that in 1996, LICH got one of the largest bequests ever to a hospital in NYC. Donald and Mildred Othmer, who lived in Brooklyn Heights for over 60 years left a sizable chunk of their estate, around $140 million to the hospital. And LICH managed to squander this gift. It amazes me that people didn't go to jail over this gross mismanagement of funds. The only good hospital left in Brownstone Brooklyn may be New York Methodist in Park Slope. I went to LICH once, and they were okay, but if I had an issue now, I'd be headed to NYM.
Jan. 31, 2013, 12:56 pm
sna from parkslope says:
Lich has the potential to become a prestige hospital. but not with investors after it's realestate.With the support from the locals Lich can become a great asset for the community.We need to atract great minds to be on our mangement team, not folks that are selling of our realestate piece by piece and building on its vancant parcels. Lets not forget what happend to Manhattan hospitals during Sandy and 9/11. SAFE LICH.
Jan. 31, 2013, 2 pm
lj from cobble hill says:
Ive been here 30 yrs & I work there so I know what Im talking about. Sorry JSB you're wrong about people not coming from these neighborhoods. They DO come to LICH & not just for an emergency. LICH IS a good hospital with doctors ranked in the latest US News & World Report as top in the nation and its NICU is ranked # 2 in Brooklyn, for example. The 50,000 patients that came through the doors last year didn't come from Queens. They came from right here. Continnuum was too busy raping the place to do anything positive with it and Downstate has no interest in marketing it or growing it. They just want a lucrative real sestate flip. They even still have Continnuum in there - still mismanaging billing and sme services, only now they have to pay the bums millions very month to keep on mismanaging cause that was part of the merge deal. Corporate Management was & still is LICH. We want a divorced from the all. And Duckie, LICH didn't squander Mr Othmer's bequest. Continuum took control of it when the took over LICH & has never given LICH an accounting for it. So who knows where it is now. Attorney general at the time (Cuomo), friends of the CEO of Continnuum wouldn't investigate LICH's complaint about it.
Feb. 2, 2013, 2:07 am
lj from cobble hill says:
Corporate Management was & still is LICHs problem. We want a divorced from them all. About the $140 million Othmer bequest that disappeared into the Continnuum, my guess is go take a look at beautifully renovated & expanded Beth Israel Hospital & youll be looking at Mr. Othmers money.
IF LICH closes, you can go to NYM, along with everyone else in South Brooklyn, & enjoy the wait to be taken care of. Just hope its not a stroke or heart attack where minutes make a difference.
Feb. 2, 2013, 2:20 am
lj from cobble hill says:

press conference 9:30am
hearing 10:30am

Feb. 2, 2013, 2:22 am
Butterfly from East new york says:
Sorry JSB, you are very very wrong. LICH continues to serve hundreds of patients day in and day out from this very same neighborhood that you live in. I have worked at at LICH for 20 plus years, of course we have all seen changes, because society itself has changed. But what remains constant is the care and commitment that remains unwavering by its medical, Nursing, and the hundreds of support staff which allows LICH to function well on a daily basis. Amid happiness and cheer we welcome new life into the world. Holding and supporting families amid tears and sorrow we are vigilant at bedsides as loved ones leave this world. We continue to support, teach, treat reassure, and meet the needs of so many other who come through our doors.
It remains a shame that in a matter of a few years two blood sucking vampires have made every attempt to capitalize and feed off of LICH's resources sucking IT dry, and now the latter has the nerve to suggest that LICH is the problem!!! How many patients have I heard testify about the treatment they received at downstate vs the care received at LICH. Employees themselves who have been patients begged to be discharged. And now, that that crumbling bohemouth of a building is falling, the latter wants to place the final nail. Shame on all of them!!!!
Feb. 2, 2013, 2:26 pm
rs from cobble hill section says:
Gov. Cuomo and Marty Markowitz why are they not looking into this?
Feb. 3, 2013, 6:57 am
jimutz from cobble hill says:
I live around the corner from LICH, and have used the emergency room several times. I've always been impressed with the quality of care I received.
Feb. 3, 2013, 4:21 pm
sam says:
Marty isn't as vocal as he usually is - probably because he pushed for this deal with SUNY in the first place. Cuomo doesn't care about this place. He was attorney general when Continuum was plundering it - & he wouldn't investigate because Continuums CEO was his good buddy. Everybody is in everybody else's pocket while they just kick LICH around like a football. Let LICH manage itself & be the premier facility that was before these outsiders all jumped on it & sucked it dry.
Feb. 5, 2013, 2:53 am
TL from B. stuy says:
If Mr. Williams kills LICH, I hope he knows he's killing thousandS of employees and members of the public. Can you live with that?!!!! MR. WILLIAMS AND BOARD OF TRUSTEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Feb. 7, 2013, 11:27 am
nancy arciniegas from gowanus projects says:
i moved here in 1991 my husband till this day goes there an he is 65 years old and refuses to go anywhere else he loves his doctors cause they know him an care about him an it saddenes him to think it is gonna close an he comes from harlem just to say a few of the doctors dr.sepkowitz dr.serqua his medical doctor i do not know her name but he loves them all thats not even including the nurses an of course michael he works on the 4th floor wanda at 349 henry st wow my son has been going there since a baby he is now 21 years old an i like it cause if i do not have cab fare i know its like a 15 minute walk as a parent i care enough u need to keep it open thanks nancy arciniegas
Sept. 7, 2013, 7:42 am

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