By Mary Frost
Doctors fighting to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn say that SUNY’s plan to sell LICH’s real estate to Fortis Property Group with an NYU-supplied “free-standing Emergency Department” is “smoke and mirrors.”
The proposal calls for LICH’s valuable real estate to be developed into condos, with NYU-Langone and Lutheran Medical Center offering outpatient medical services and the free-standing ED.
SUNY described the plan at a board meeting on Monday — amidst dire warnings that LICH, drained of patients and income for more than a year by SUNY, was costing so much money that the state might have to scale back services at its upstate colleges or even close campuses.The Fortis proposal, even with NYU’s involvement, would not include an actual hospital — something which LICH supporters say makes it dead in the water.
“With the NYU-Fortis plan the LICH ‘Emergency Room’ would in truth be an urgent care center, as no critically ill patient would ever be transported to the ER by ambulance,” long-time ER physician Dr. Saul Melman said in a statement. Dr. Melman is on the board of Concerned Physicians of LICH, a member of the coalition which has been battling SUNY’s attempts to close LICH for more than a year.Seriously injured or critically ill patients “would be better off going to an ER that is attached to a full service hospital that cares for patients suffering from stroke, heart attack, GI bleeding, etc.,” Dr. Melman said.
“The proposed ‘stand alone ER’ is smoke and mirrors,” he said. “This is of critical importance if the community surrounding LICH wants an emergency room which can provide emergent care and there, and then immediately transfer care to inpatient services at LICH where minutes may make the difference between life and death. They should be aware that ‘stand-alone ER’ would not provide this.”
“SUNY prevented hospital services for months which prevented LICH from making any money and now they blame LICH,” said Sue Raboy, spokesperson for Patients for LICH, another member of the LICH coalition.
In the revised version, Fortis would partner with NYU Langone Medical Center and also Lutheran Medical Center.
NYU would provide services including an urgent care center, a radiology and diagnostic center and six specialty centers, such as gastroenterology, pulmonary and cancer care. Lutheran would provide dental health, primary care and behavioral health.
On Monday, Carl McCall, chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees, when asked about yet another bid for LICH by Brooklyn Hospital Center, said, “I only heard about it in the press.”
SUNY says that Brooklyn Hospital Center’s bid, which involves rentals instead of condos, wasn’t submitted within the official RFP timeline and so will not be considered. The issue of NYU and Lutheran’s inclusion in the deal after the RFP process’s conclusion was not raised.
Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, attorney for LICH advocates, told the Eagle, “We are grateful for SUNY’s decision to defer a vote on the NYU-Langone decision.”