SUNY board to hear revised proposals on Friday
By Mary Frost
They learned about bowties. And onions. And kindergarten.
But Brooklynites hoping to learn the details of proposals submitted by five developers seeking to buy Long Island College Hospital (LICH) were left fuming on Wednesday night when a quickly-organized Q & A with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, scheduled to be broadcast at 9:30 p.m. on BRIC’s community access BCAT TV, never materialized.
On Tuesday, BP Adams had invited interested people to email or tweet questions to him about the bids. During Wednesday’s Q & A, the Brisa Builders Corporation, Related Companies, Chinese Community Accountable Care Organization, Fortis Property Group and the Peebles Corporation were to describe their proposals and answer the pre-submitted questions.
Instead, as viewers settled in to watch the promised broadcast, a show featuring men’s fashion, a song substituting the word “onions” for a section of the male anatomy, and a piece about kindergarten was shown instead.
Twitter came alive with questions and accusations.
“We’re still waiting for LICH broadcast to start. What’s going on?” asked Eliza Bates.
“BPEricAdams, trying to watch the program – nothing on,” tweeted Nikhita Venugopal.
“BOWTIES? Are we on the wrong channel?” asked the Brooklyn Bugle.
Nas Mohit said, “You call this ‘community input’ BPEricAdams”?
Some viewers, under the impression they were watching the wrong channel, contacted the Brooklyn Eagle.
“I can’t find Adams on TV, can you?” one frantically texted. “I’m watching a fashion show waiting for Adams to start.”
As the kindergarten segment wound to a close and LICH supporters vented on Twitter, the Eagle got through to BP Adams’ spokesman Stefan Ringel.
“On behalf of Brooklyn Borough President Adams, I want to apologise,” he said. He assured the Eagle that the Q & A with the developers had been taped as planned. “It taped between 4 and 6 p.m., and there were no glitches. The issue is at BRIC and BCAT. They are having issues uploading the program onto the system to air,” he said.
Ringel said the program “will air, and there will be multiple air times.” He added that BCAT TV had not set a time for the airings yet, “but we will get that information out as soon as we have it.”
BCAT TV (@BKIndieMedia) sent out a tweet confirming the studio had experienced technical difficulty, and promising to set a new air time. (Update: Early on Thursday. the channel said the show would be broadcast several times throughout the day on Thursday and Friday. See http://bricartsmedia.org)
Despite Ringel’s assurances, many commenters were not convinced a technical error was the cause of the delay.
“I don’t think they wanted to answer our questions and they were surprised at how many they received,” said Susan Raboy, spokesperson for Patients for LICH. She emailed the Brooklyn Eagle a letter that she said had been sent to BP Adams before the Q & A was scheduled to be filmed.
It included detailed questions such as, “What will happen to LICH’s life-satving cardiac angioplasty heart center and neurosurgical stroke center if the hospital is closed? Brooklyn Hospital [partnering with Related Companies in one of the bids] can’t provide that care — it doesn’t have those services.”
The letter also asked questions about promised urgent care and free-standing emergency rooms. “They couldn’t . . . have helped the pregnant woman who ran into LICH’s ER last week with a baby who couldn’t wait to be born.”
SUNY has been trying to close LICH for more than a year. Community groups and officials representing LICH’s service area have called SUNY’s RFP process “rigged” to favor developers over hospital operators. Advocates are calling for a “fair and open process” that would reflect the health needs of the surrounding community.
“The process is illegal,” SurgPath Atlas tweeted to BP Adams. “As a [Borough] President you should be no part of it.”
“There is no sense commenting on or reacting to any of the proposals, since this process has no chance whatsoever of withstanding legal scrutiny,” said attorney Jim Walden of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Walden represents LICH advocates including six community groups. “SUNY and its enablers can claim this process is ‘open and transparent’ all they want, but repeating a lie one thousand times does not make it true.”
The full details of the revised bids were publicly revealed for the first time on Wednesday. Four of the five proposals call for closing the 155-year-old hospital and redeveloping its real estate, while providing ambulatory care through partnerships with health providers.
One proposal calls for keeping LICH in operation as a (smaller) hospital, something advocates for LICH say is a non-negotiable requirement.
On Friday, February 7, the SUNY Board of Trustees will meet in Manhattan to consider the revised proposals. LICH supporters plan to travel to the meeting as well.
On Tuesday, February 11, these same SUNY board members and state DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah will be facing contempt charges before state Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes for violating his orders, on multiple occasions, to keep LICH open .