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Agreement Allows SUNY To Pull Out Of Struggling Long Island College Hospital

SUNY, State To Work Toward Finding New Operator
Long Island College Hospital BIG DL

Signs posted outside Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, July 18, 2013. (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — State officials on Thursday announced an agreement in which the State University of New York may pull out of the struggling Long Island College Hospital, but a new health care provider will take over.

The agreement ends a controversy that goes back several months as the state struggled to decide the next steps for the Cobble Hill medical center which now only sees a trickle of patients.

SUNY has complained that it has been losing $13 million a month and suffering liabilities of $500 million, and said repeatedly that it had no choice but to close the hospital.

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall announced that SUNY will exit operations of the hospital no later than May, and all pending and future litigation over the issue will be dropped.

But SUNY will also “provide an agreed-upon process to deliver a viable long-term health care solution for the community.”

The LICH community and elected officials will participate in requesting proposals, following a seven-day selection period for a new operator. The agreement requires court approval.

“Today’s agreement is a victory for all parties involved and paves the way for putting a long-term, sustainable health care facility in place for the residents of Brooklyn,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in the release. “We are in the midst of a health care transformation here in New York State, and the reality is that yesterday’s costly, inefficient models of delivering service are no longer viable options for tomorrow. Under the terms of today’s agreement, SUNY is reopening the solicitation process to find a new operator for LICH that will guide the facility as it modernizes and continues its important mission of serving New Yorkers.”

“Really for the first time in a long time, it gives LICH a chance to re-emerge as a hospital. It is a settlement that gives the community a real voice in the choice of operators,” Jim Walden, an attorney for six community groups involved in the case, told 1010 WINS’ Eileen Lehpamer.

This past summer, Mayor de Blasio — then public advocate — was among those arrested, protesting because they feared SUNY would close the hospital and sell the property.

De Blasio praised the agreement reached Thursday.

“For months we were told the free-fall closure of Long Island College was inevitable. We fought back. We went to court to keep the padlocks off the doors. We fought shoulder to shoulder with this community and used all the tools of city government to press for a better outcome. And now, we have a resolution that finally puts people’s health first,” de Blasio said in the release. “This agreement represents the culmination of all the tremendous work by nurses and doctors, neighborhood associations, patients and elected officials who refused to back down.”

The New York State Health Department had approved closing LICH back in July. But the following month, the hospital was ordered to restore services to the levels where they stood prior to July 19 – the day the New York State Health Department approved closing the facility.

The judge also appointed an independent monitor to keep its eye on SUNY.

In the interest of implementing the new plan, SUNY has received strong proposals in a previous solicitation that have already received broad support from community and religious groups, and has asked for qualified bidders to resubmit their proposals.

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