They’re pulling the plug.
Late last night New York University backed out of its role as a medical partner in the redevelopment scheme aimed at turning the former Long Island College Hospital campus into luxury housing with a healtchare component. The announcement came after a judge expanded the scope of a lawsuit brought by healthcare worker unions claiming the university’s Langone Medical Center was failing to hire former employees of the Cobble Hill hospital, as mandated by a court settlement that gave the state the green light to close and sell the hospital. The union lawsuit originally targeted only the state, which still controls the prime real estate the hospital once occupied, but on Thursday a judge said New York University and developer Fortis Property Group also bear responsibility. A state spokesman said the university’s about-face throws the whole sale into jeopardy.
“A highly complicated healthcare transaction that would have brought world-class patient services and jobs to Brooklyn and was many months in the making unraveled. There are no winners,” said State University of New York spokesman David Doyle. “The future of the facility is uncertain.”
The $240 million sale of Long Island College Hospital to Williamsburg developer Fortis Property Group was finally approved on July 1 after more than a year of protests and legal wrangling with activists and staffers over who the buyer should be and what type of medical care would remain at the site. New York University was to run the healthcare facilities, but decided to withdraw from the takeover bid rather than deal with additional court headaches.
“It is clear to us that we will be unable to conclude the transaction, and provide the highest quality medical and nursing care that is our standard, even with the best of intentions and the commitment of the full resources of our institution,” said a New York University spokeswoman.
A rep for the developer said it is searching for a new medical partner but would not comment beyond that.
One of the healthcare worker unions that is suing condemned the university for evading the prescriptions of the court settlement and, now, leaving everyone in the lurch.
“NYU has walked away from its commitment to Brooklyn patients,” said Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association. “NYU’s unwillingness to live up to the commitments made in the proposal at this early stage in the process was a terrible omen for the future of care for the community served by LICH. How could LICH patients trust NYU to live up to any of its commitments in the long run if NYU was already failing to keep its word?”
The new medical facility was supposed to include a freestanding emergency department, observation beds, primary and preventative care offices, nine specialty departments, an ambulatory surgery center, and a human immunodeficiency virus clinic.
But that, along with the sale to Fortis and the state’s continued operation of an extant emergency department, is now in question.