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De Blasio Hopes LICH Deal Will End String Of Hospital Closures

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)

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that a deal to keep Long Island College Hospital open under a new operator would mark the end of an “epidemic of hospital closings” going back all through his predecessor’s administration.

As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, the mayor said the deal represented a “transcendent moment for health care in New York City.”

Announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday, the deal allows the State University of New York to 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.

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.

De Blasio said he hopes the agreement will not only beep LICH open, but end “a really unfortunate, unnecessary, destructive time in this city – an epidemic of hospital closings that became a normal, featured landscape in New York City over the last 12 years.”

The mayor said 15 hospitals closed when his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was serving between 2003 and 2012.

“This is the first time in 12 long years that a hospital has been saved; that we have kept the wolf from the door; that we have prepared for the future of health care in this community, because everyone here took responsibility,” the mayor said alongside Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and an assortment of others from attorneys to union officials.

While a final plan must still be devised and approved by a court, de Blasio said he thinks the hospital will be preserved for the long haul.

“I think we’ve crossed the Rubicon,” he said. “I think we’ve got such a clear set of criteria now, and again a lot of interest out there already, and potentially more new interest. I think we’re going to get to a final plan that protects healthcare for this community and will be economically sustainable, I really feel that.”

As 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported, de Blasio said he will also focus on keeping another struggling Brooklyn hospital, Interfaith Medical Center, open – as well as protecting hospitals and health care in all five boroughs.

“This guarantees the fundamental right to community health care for the 80,000 people who rely first and foremost on LICH today,” he said.

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.

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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