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Letter: LICH deal collapse ‘the best thing we could have hoped for’

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To the editor,

The withdrawal of New York University-Langone from the Fortis Property Group bid to secure the Long Island College Hospital property has put the entire LICH property saga in turmoil. Rumors have circulated that other bidders in the last request for proposals have restated their interest in the LICH property. One of the options, surely the most transparent, is that the RFP be started anew. This immensely important decision will dramatically impact the lives, health and happiness of literally millions of Brooklynites for decades to come, and should not be rushed at this point. At stake immediately is the emergency medical care of 1.5 million Brooklynites that are now served by Brooklyn, Methodist, Lutheran and Maimonides hospitals, and previously also by LICH. All these hospitals’ emergency rooms are now under great stress and are failing, due to the closing of LICH.

It is important to understand that the “freestanding emergency room” that the NYU-Langone facility would have provided was in reality an urgent care center. To call it an emergency room was a hoax and a fraud on the community, the, court and the evaluators of the RFP.

The NYU-Langone facility would have had no general surgery, no ob-gyn surgery, no labor and delivery, no neonatal intensive care unit, and no specialty consultations in their “freestanding emergency room.”

It would have had no definitive care for heart attacks, strokes, life-threatening breathing emergencies like asthma, congestive heart failure, emphysema, or pneumonia. No definitive care for life-threatening diabetic crisis, renal failure, sepsis, etc. No definitive care for the nationwide epidemic of life-threatening enterovirus D68 infections in the pediatric population, which may require respirators to save children’s lives, or for life-threatening flu cases. It would have had no backup intensive-care units and no in-hospital beds for life-threatening pediatric, medical, ob-gyn, or general surgical cases.

This NYU-Langone hoax, the “freestanding emergency room,” is not what we need or want. Mount Sinai and Weill Cornell have opened similar non-emergency care facilities in the last year in the Downtown Brooklyn area. NYU-Langone walking away from Fortis is the best thing we could have hoped for. We now have the opportunity to resuscitate and revitalize Long Island College Hospital to a full service, acute-care hospital with a real, full-service emergency room, as it was just 15 months ago. And then to improve it to high excellence.

Jon Berall, Brooklyn Heights

The author is a former Long Island College Hospital emergency room physician and ombudsman who monitored the hospital for Brooklyn Supreme Court judge Johnny Lee Baynes.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Doug Biviano from Brooklyn Heights says:
Hear Hear Jack!
Sept. 25, 2014, 9:51 pm
Jon Berall from Brooklyn Heights says:
Correction: I was not an ER physician at Long Island College Hospital. I was an ER physician at many hospitals, from the largest to the smallest. I was a, "relief pitcher" ER physician, like the ER physicians that kept the LICH ER, Intensive Care Unit and Medical Ward open for 15 months. Let us get a new RFP to decide who should run the full service acute care hospital that LICH was 15 months ago and which is needed today and into the future. The other area ERs are over-stressed and failing today. And with exploding residential, business and tourist populations ( Barclays center/ Brooklyn Bridge Park) the ER crisis will only get worse. To assume that Brooklyn Hospital ER can double the number of cases and life-threatening cases compared to when LICH was alive and well with the same facility size and the same personnel is absurd. Non life-threatening cases will become life-threatening cases and life-threatening cases will die; guaranteed. SUNY Downstate was given LICH, no money was paid because Downstate Medical Center said that they would revitalize LICH. They were also given a large grant of many millions of dollars to help revitalize LICH. But they continued to Kill LICH so it would be declared worthless and a money looser and sold to condo builders. Now those lies have been exposed. It is reasonable to assume that there will be new bidders to resuscitate and revitalize LICH in a new, honest, transparent RFP. SUNY's despicable action has forefitted any SUNY claim to the property or to running the RFP.
Sept. 25, 2014, 10:54 pm
T Wassner from Brooklyn Heights says:
Dr. Berall is absolutely right about how SUNY destroyed LICH and what should be done about it.
Sept. 26, 2014, 12:07 am
J berall from Brooklyn Hts says:
Thank you Gov. Cuomo for lying when you said LICH was loosing money when in fact Downstate Medical Center was Not Billing for emergency services rendered at LICH for 1.5 years !! Thank you Gov. Cuomo for lying when you said LICH was loosing money when Downstate Medical Center didn't register LICH doctors with insurance companies so they were not paid for services rendered for 1.5 years !! Thank you Gov. Cuomo for lying when you said there were too many hospital beds in Brooklyn as a reason for closing LICH: when there were 2 hospital beds per 1000 people in Brooklyn and 6 hospital beds per 1000 people in Manhattan.
Thank you Gov. Cuomo for the fact that the Emergency Medical System in Brooklyn is failing today and people are dying because the areas ERs are overrun due to the closing of the LICH ER, which saw 60,000 people each year. Thank you Gov. Cuomo for assuming that Brooklyn Hospital's ER could see double the number of cases and double the number of life-threatening cases compared to when LICH was alive and well, without increasing the Brooklyn Hospital ER space and the ER personnel. And this assumption made when the residential ( condos everywhere ) , business-commercial and tourist-visitor populations ( Barclay's Center and Brooklyn Bridge Park) of the area served by the Brooklyn Hospital ER are Exploding. An absurd and lethal assumption. Thank you Gov. Cuomo for replacing LICH, a Full Service Acute Care Hospital serving 460,000 Brooklynites with super-luxury condominiums for the richest of the rich from somewhere else. Long Island College Hospital which has been serving Brooklynites and others for 157 years !!
Long Island College Hospital which treated patients from the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the two World Wars, and all the wars fought by the men and women of the United States of America.
Long Island College Hospital where the stethoscope was first used, where the first nursing school was founded, where the first bacteriology laboratory was establiched, where the doctors over the decades and the centuries have been among the most famous in the medical profession.
Thank you Gov. Cuomo for spitting on Brooklynites and essentially declaring War on Brooklynites. Declaring War on Brooklyn was a mistake, Gov Cuomo. We have been at War before. We are ready to continue to fight to save the lives of our most vulnerable first, the infants and the children and the elderly/ the wise; and also the age groups between the extremes.
And you will loose, Gov Cuomo, because we are the Good and you are the Evil.
Sept. 26, 2014, 4:16 am
BL Pepper from Bklyn Heights says:
Thank you J Berral for tthis outstanding article. This is like a horror film, everything is true. We who have been following this for the past 2 years have been fighting tooth and nail to.hang on to our hospital, knowing that if we fail this whole section of Brooklyn will be in jeopardy. We Patients for LICH will be out at the Antic passing out flyers at 179 Atlantic Ave, come by and say hello.
Sept. 26, 2014, 8:39 am
Maik Obermuller from Bay Ridge says:
Dear Dr Berall,

I appreciate your service as a doctor. You are not a business or fiscal person. So you are making false statements when you say LICH was not loosing money. LICH lost money for 18-19 years in a row.

Price Waterhouse performed a audit on LICH before it was transferred to SUNY. One of their main conclusions was "In the absence of any significant changes, cash flows and operating results for the foreseeable future would be substantially below levels for LICH to satisfy future commitments." This is the professional opinion of one the the best accounting firms in the US.

I appreciate your passion for LICH, but LICH is not a fiscally solvent hospital. New York City is not willing to take it over as a City Hospital. SUNY can not carry the losses LICH offers without bringing down the entire SUNY system.

Every single potential owner has made offers to take over in exchange to build condo's. The reality is LICH is a not operable without significant concessions by union employees on salary and benefits, and upgrades. The unions are not offering any concessions. All of this takes big money and NYS is still struggling fiscally also.

In an ideal world with all the money in the world NYS would run LICH and not worry about the incredible losses. We live in a real world where every single person in NYS pays taxes to pay for LICH. Many middle class people are still struggling from the great recession. Salaries have stagnated and a majority of NYS residents have had more difficult fiscal times in the last 3-5 years.

LICH can be replaced by urgent care centers and offer quality health care. Would a full-service hospital be better? Yes, but we can no longer afford this. If NYC would pick up LICH this would be ideal. Maybe that is where the LICH activist like yourself should attend to. Get DeBlasio to live up to his statements he made during the election and save LICH. I think the reality is DeBlasio has seen the fiscal reality of LICH and turned tail and run from LICH.

Stop with the drama Dr Berall and false statements. Reality can be harsh but find the silver lining.

Maik Obermuller
Sept. 26, 2014, 9:29 am
former LICH patient from Brooklyn says:
Those of you that follow the LICH story will probably recognize the name MAIK OBERMULLER. Obermuller is a so-called 'concerned citizen' who seems to take a special zeal in posting untrue/negative comments about LICH every chance he can get. One has to wonder what his motive actually is. Why is he so set on the destruction of LICH? Can he possibly gain something from the real estate deal?
Sept. 26, 2014, 10:59 am
Ellen G. from Brooklyn Heights says:
BRAVO, Dr. Berall, for your common sense and your outrage about the situation we find ourselves in without accessible medical care, especially the lack of adequate emergency care and follow-up hospital care.
The present loss of LICH -- due to the lethal nexus of greed, politics and corruption, past and present -- has put thousands of us in real danger. The situation can only get worse, with the anticipated influx of more people to the area, unless the hospital is restored to us. It is short-sighted and absurd to close a hospital in a densely populated area and just hope for the best. It is urban insanity!
Thank you, Dr Berall, for telling it like it is.
Sept. 26, 2014, 11:56 am
jules from East Williamsburg says:
Last I heard, Methodist Hospital, a very short bike ride, (Deblasio will decree hospital bike lanes with the money Local 1199 gave him to save the place) walk on a nice day or car ride, from LICH, was in desperate need of space and wants to tear down the elite Park Slope residences around it....WHY DOESN'T METHODIST take over the LICH campus??
Sept. 26, 2014, 12:11 pm
Maik Obermuller from Bay Ridge says:
I live in Bayridge and am retired now. I do not work for Fortis or anyone else right now. Spent many Years as a Penn State trooper, military police, and Marine. I am like many people and see a neighborhood with people in top 2% income range trying to force NYS to pay for a backup hospital for them. It is time we all speak out against the very rich using taxpayer money in waste. That is who I am, and why I have written to stop the LICH fraud.
Sept. 26, 2014, 12:11 pm
Dr. Past from Downtown Manhattan says:
I am a practicing physician as well and echo the comments here.

But let's be serious. This is intentional. They don't want to provide any of the services listed above. They make their money from surgical care and urgent care. Everything else in the mind of a hospital CEO is useless.

Get ready folks, this is the beginning. You will be blown away at the amount of services that will be taken away in the next two years. In 2016, 90% of medical services in NYC will be controlled by 4 CEOs, all of which are only interested in profits. The good news is that doctors will earn much less, which will appease the public somewhat until they realize that their premiums will still go up to support all the MBAs and consultants that will now be needed to efficiently extract profits from the patients.

As a lifelong democrat, yet business owner and MD providing care to over 20,000 patients a year and employing over 50 employees, I can only say that the Affordable Care Act is a big sham of a project. This is just the start.
Sept. 26, 2014, 5:34 pm
Dr. Past from Downtown Manhattan says:
@Maik Obermuller

"All of this takes big money and NYS is still struggling fiscally also."

Really? I thought there was a massive surplus in the budget now that Cuomo has raided the WC fund for $1.8 billion.

Considering he and almost all of our legislators are a puppet of the insurance industry, do you think the reason for insolvency is the hospital and its' workers or the 20% profit margin expected and maintained by the insurance companies by fraudulently reneging on payments? Shouldn't that be the discussion?
Sept. 26, 2014, 5:39 pm
Debbie B. from Brooklyn Heights says:
I agree with Dr. Berall 100%.
Closing LICH was a very big mistake Gov. Cuomo made. Saving lives is much more important than building luxury condominiums. Every time I hear the loud sound of an ambulance in my neighborhood I worry about the patient being transported to the nearest hospital and weather this patient will survive. Gov. Cuomo is responsible for the deaths in Brooklyn. If LICH was open lives would be saved. LICH must re-open as a full service hospital to meet the needs of the community. BROOKLYN PATIENTS WANT JUSTICE!!
Sept. 26, 2014, 6:29 pm
Thomas Lawrence from Brooklyn Heights says:
My understanding is that Continuum Partners was responsible for the earlier demise of LICH.
Sept. 26, 2014, 7:06 pm
CLOSE LICH NOW! from Cobble Hill says:
"All these hospitals’ emergency rooms are now under great stress and are failing, due to the closing of LICH." What proof do you have to offer to show that the above statement is true? Stop printing words with nothing to back them up, it is completely irresponsible of you to do this. FYI there are other neighborhoods in NYC that dont have multiple hospitals as close as the downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods do to them. I live in Rockaway Beach where the neatest hospital to me would be Coney Island Hospital which is more than 25 minutes away, Jamaica Hospital which is more than 35 minutes away or Saint Johns Hospital also a 35 minute drive. Am I to believe that Redhook is more vulnarable to an emergency with a 10 minute drive to Brooklyn Hospital than I would be with my choices? Stop the insanity already, LICH is not a necessity in that area of Brooklyn. Stop spewing lies about the state of local hospitals due to LICH's closure. I agree that hospitals should not close but only if they are infact a necessity to the neighborhood. Everyone has said that LICH is a necessity but prove it! Show me the countless deaths that have occurred because of its closure but dont just say it - prove it!
Sept. 27, 2014, 8:27 am
M. Roca from Sunset Park says:
Once again, Jack Berrall is on point. While NY politicians and the business sector laud this city as a World Class City, they manage it as a Banana Republic. Not once have I heard any arguments for their actions re LICH based on Regional Planning tenets. Many seem to forget that it doesn't matter whether you're the 1% or the 99% if you're having a heart attack, stroke, asthma attack in Brooklyn Hts. or Red Hook or have been mangled in a car crash on the BQE during rush hour, regardless of where you live. That's not even taking a regional emergency into future planning considerations (there's that word PLANNING, again). OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURE DEPENDS ON SMART REALISTIC SHORT-TERM, as well as LONG-TERM PLANNING by our government, business leaders and dedicated health professionals working collaboratively, not in competition.

On the topic of the millions and millions mis-managed (I'm being diplomatic) at LICH by SUNY Continuum, why are the taxpayers losing a hospital when those who perpetrated the mis-management are not being charged and prosecuted to the greatest extent of the law for dereliction of duty (to say the least), etc., etc., etc.
Sept. 27, 2014, 2:19 pm
Doug Biviano from Brooklyn Heights says:
1. M. Roca you are right -- de Blasio in the first few weeks as mayor hired Stanley Brezenoff the head of Continuum who ran LICH into ground.

2. Please go to this link and educate the author http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/09/8553455/nyu-returns-conditionally-salvage-lich-deal
Sept. 27, 2014, 9:38 pm
LICHsavesLIVES from Marine Park says:
Long Island College Hospital is needed.

SUNY targeted LICH for two reasons, one remove competition, and two make money doing it. FORTIS is the catalyst chosen for its political contributions.

One hand washes the other.

They have their people posting propaganda which is very transparent.

By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.
Oct. 2, 2014, 12:09 am

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