The unions are out and New York University is back in business.
New York University Langone Medical Center has put its name back on a deal to redevelop Long Island College Hospital after a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by staffer unions demanding employees of the former Cobble Hill hospital be rehired at a smaller medical operation to be run by the school as part of a luxury residential development on the site. The ruling by Judge Johnny Lee Baynes came as the redevelopment deal appeared on the brink of falling apart completely thanks to the university pulling out and leaving developer Fortis Property group without the medical partner it built its bid around. The ruling followed State University of New York chairman Carl McCall threatening to shutter the emergency department the state has maintained since it closed the hospital on May 22, as reported by Capital New York.
McCall hailed the latest development in the saga that began when his team first tried to close the hospital in Feb. 2013.
“NYU Langone Medical Center can soon begin providing their world-class services, and SUNY can return to providing its students with a world-class education,” he said in a statement.
The $240-million Fortis sale was the third redevelopment bid to be considered after talks collapsed around the preceding proposals. The bids came out of a complex scoring process mandated by a February court settlement that ended a lawsuit brought by community groups and staffers unions seeking to halt the closure. The unions sued again in August, saying New York University was failing to hire former hospital workers to staff its planned healthcare facility, as the settlement says it must.
In his ruling, Baynes wrote that the means of enforcing the terms of the settlement, as the New York State Nurses Association and another union demanded, is not actually a part of the settlement, and thus he had to butt out of the sale.
“It is the court’s finding that the relief sought by NYSNA was never contemplated by the settlement agreement between the parties,” he wrote.
A rep for the union said the legal team had not yet decided whether to appeal.
“We are disappointed in the ruling. We are reviewing the court’s decision and considering our options. We remain committed to protecting care for Brooklyn patients,” said New York State Nurses Association spokeswoman Eliza Bates.
As for New York University, honchos there are happy to have gotten their way.
“NYU Langone Medical Center is looking forward to expanding our practice of excellent healthcare at the NYU Langone Cobble Hill facility,” a spokeswoman said.
Employees and activists rallied in front of the shuttered hospital last week alongside pols, including Comptroller Scott Stringer, councilmen Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights) and Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook), and Democratic Assembly nominee Jo Anne Simon. Stringer condemned the selling-off of the medical campus this way:
“What has happened over the last 18 months is nothing short of disgraceful,” he said at the rally on Sept. 24. “We have put luxury condos at the forefront of this discussion.”
Stringer’s hand-wringing signalled a challenge to Mayor DeBlasio, who during his 2013 campaign got himself arrested at a protest to save the hospital, but as mayor called the February settlement “truly historic,” though it meant closing the hospital.
The only piece of the former hospital still open is a freestanding emergency department that does not accept ambulances, which critics argue makes it a glorified walk-in clinic. Services at the planned complex are set to include the emergency department, observation beds, primary and preventative care offices, nine specialty departments, an ambulatory surgery center, and a human immunodeficiency virus clinic, according to the developer.
The state university system took over the hospital from the management company Continuum Health Partners in 2011, then claimed the facility was a money loser and tried to close it. A report by the Brooklyn Eagle claims that state administrators failed to bill for more than $100 million in patient services while the medical center was still open.