Comptroller and AG approval opens door to SUNY handoff

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NYU Langone says it will take over the operation of a walk-in emergency department at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn on Oct. 31. Photo by Mary Frost.

NYU Langone plans to take over the operation of the walk-in emergency department at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn on Friday, Oct. 31, according to representatives of NYU and SUNY.

NYU says it will call the site “NYU Langone-Cobble Hill.”

While the hospital itself is shuttered, SUNY Downstate has been operating a small emergency clinic out of the former pediatric ER there.

NYU Langone has refurbished the space formerly occupied by LICH’s adult ER, but has not been permitted to take over its operations pending approvals from the state Comptroller and Attorney General for the overall sale of the hospital site to developer Fortis Property Group.

On Tuesday, the AG and Comptroller approved SUNY’s sale of LICH to Fortis, which plans to develop condos there.

“We are currently completing all site preparations and staff assignments so that NYU Langone-Cobble Hill will be ready to open this Friday, October 31,” said NYU spokesperson Lisa Greiner.

NYU Langone terms the walk-in site the “interim” location. A permanent, larger medical facility is expected to be completed nearby in late 2017 or early 2018, Greiner said.

“The interim location at the renovated, former LICH ED [emergency department] site will be staffed by an experienced, interdisciplinary team of more than 100 skilled clinicians and support personnel 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

Greiner said that NYU Langone-Cobble Hill will have the capability to care for acutely ill patients, “but if inpatient admission is required, two ambulances will be onsite at all times to transfer patients to NYU Langone, or to one of several Brooklyn-based hospitals, such as Lutheran Medical Center, Methodist Hospital, or Brooklyn Hospital Center.”

NYU Langone is “currently working with the New York State Department of Health and the FDNY to facilitate acceptance of 911 ambulances as soon as possible,” she said.

The sale of the 156-year-old hospital has been fought by Brooklyn community groups, officials and staff for almost two years.

Advocacy groups maintain that the sale is shortsighted, as northwest Brooklyn’s exploding population requires a full-service hospital, not a freestanding ER. The RFP process eventually won by Fortis “appeared rigged,” officials have said.

The group Patients for LICH said in a statement late Wednesday, “We are disappointed but not surprised that neither Comptroller DiNapoli nor Attorney General Schneiderman had the courage to stand up against Cuomo and stop the corruption that has marked SUNY’s ownership of LICH . . .”

Questions remain including SUNY’s obligation to pay back LICH’s $140 million Othmer Endowment. As a condition of SUNY’s no-cash takeover of LICH from Continuum Health Partners in 2011, SUNY agreed to repay the money, which had been borrowed.

According to the settlement papers signed by all parties, state Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Demarest retains jurisdiction over trust-related issues.

Mayor’s Office praises NYU Langone plan

On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s spokesperson Wiley Norvell said, “We’ve all worked hard to get this across the finish line.”

Commenting on NYU Langone’s long-term plans, Norvell said, “This community deserves a state of the art healthcare facility. It deserves a fully-functional emergency department. It deserves specialty services that can meet the specific needs of the people who live and work nearby. The 125,000 square foot healthcare facility, run by one of the most respected hospital systems in the nation, will meet those needs.”

Referring to the interim ED, he said, “We’re proud that come Friday, there will be more and better healthcare in this corner of Brooklyn.”

More about the permanent facility

NYU’s Greiner said that down the road, the permanent medical facility would be four stories tall and employ “more than 400 staff and 70 doctors.”

In addition to the free-standing emergency department, the facility would include outpatient ambulatory operating rooms and an “office-based surgical suite,” primary and specialty care services, an on-site lab and pathology team, and medical imaging. A satellite of NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center would also be on site, she said.

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