Capital New York
May 22, 2014
“Day of Pain”: Settlement Assures Dramatic Downsizing for LICH
By Dan Goldberg
For the second time in three months, a legal settlement that paves the way for SUNY to rid itself of Long Island College Hospital has been reached.
This latest agreement, which allows some health care to remain on site but closes most of the hospital, was announced with far less fanfare than the one celebrated at City Hall three months ago.
That February day was billed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as “transcendent” and “historic" as hopes were kept alive that LICH would remain a full service hospital.
Thursday was described as “a day of pain.”
The agreement, first reported by Capital, provides for a freestanding emergency department, with no intensive care unit, and, for the time being, no ambulance service. Also, the majority of LICH's staff will be laid off.
That is far less than what nurses and community activists had hoped for and far less than what was called for at the rallies that vaulted the candidacies of de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James.
But it is also far more than what SUNY, the state entity that runs the money-losing hospital, had first contemplated when it sought to close LICH some 15 months ago.
Jim Walden, the attorney representing six community groups and the public advocate's office, told the court that North Shore-LIJ, which is partnering with The Peebles Corporation, will begin staffing the emergency department on Tuesday.
“The cost … will be borne by The Peebles Group,” said Meredith Kane, representing Peebles.
SUNY will work with North Shore-LIJ and the FDNY to resume ambulance service as soon as possible but no later than July 15.
In exchange, Walden will drop his motion asking Justice Johnny Lee Baynes to disqualify certain evaluators who helped Peebles score higher than other bidders offering a full-service hospital.
With the community's needs addressed, Peebles can now turn its attention to SUNY, as it tries to close a purchase agreement for $260 million.
Officials from SUNY and Peebles say a final deal is close.
That would finally allow SUNY to extricate itself from a mess it claims is costing the state more than $10 million a month.
But no one in court was in a celebratory mood.
"Today is a day of pain," said Richard Seltzer, the attorney representing the New York State Nurses Association. “We hope today, despite the pain and we have to recognize that pain, is another step toward providing care at LICH.”
On Thursday, the court room's pews were filled with nurses who had just lost their jobs and patients who acknowledged they had lost the fight.
It was a far cry from the February press conference at City Hall, which celebrated a deal, which Walden also helped orchestrate, between the community, SUNY and the unions.
At that time, it seemed possible, if somewhat wishful, that some company would run a full-service hospital and keep the staff from being laid off.
That no longer appears to be the case.
There were at one time 460 nurses at LICH. As of Thursday morning there were 158, but only 47 are directly related to the ED.
Baynes has many times during the past few months acknowledged the sacrifices that the unions made by consenting to having so many laid off.
“This is a tough time for everybody,” Baynes said.
The judge implied that a freestanding emergency department was less than what he had hoped for, expressing a concern that it would not provide adequate services for the area's growing population.
“Downtown Brooklyn has become Wall Street south,” Baynes said. “After September 11, everyone came here. You must have adequate health care here. If there was a catastrophe, where would you go? I don't want to say too much because sometimes less is more.”
As part of the agreement, The Peebles Group will conduct a community needs assessment that would determine what health care service are appropriate for the area. The assessor would be chosen by Walden from a list provided by The Peebles Group.
If the assessor determines that more than a freestanding emergency department is warranted, Peebles and its partners would be required to provide it “subject to reasonable feasibility condition,” which is an awfully big out for the group should any additional health services prove financially difficult.
Baynes expressed faith, however, that if the assessment demonstrated a need for greater health care, it would be provided.
“Beyond ethics and morality, I think it's good business,” Baynes said. “It's the right thing to do.”
Crain’s Health Pulse
May 22, 2014
Tentative Deal is Reached, But it Won't Save LICH
By Irina Ivanova
Community activists have given up their fight to keep a full-service hospital at Long Island College Hospital in a tentative deal that would keep a slimmed-down emergency room at the site in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
All services at the hospital will shutter at midnight with the exception of the emergency department, which will remain open until the State University of New York hands its ownership off to another operator, North Shore-LIJ and developer the Peebles Corp., with the goal of wholly managing the site by Sept. 1.
Even then, however, LICH will not return to its full-service ways. An agreement reached Thursday morning between a bidder, LICH and the community groups that had sued to keep it open states that only an emergency room will remain, and it will not include an intensive-care unit. The emergency room is no longer accepting ambulances, but the agreement states that ambulance service will return as soon as possible and no later than July 15.
"The continuity of care of services offered at LICH is paramount," the so-called statement of principles read.
But those principles, and the community groups behind them, have finally bowed to reality. Despite politically charged rhetoric and headline-grabbing lawsuits, the community activists were unable to find a hospital operator willing to keep LICH open.
Their attorney, Jim Walden, conceded as much Thursday. In exchange for dropping all litigation against SUNY and the state Department of Health, Mr. Walden agreed to a "statement of principles" that simply requires the Peebles Corp. to commission an independent community needs assessment, which would establish whether or not a full-service hospital is needed in Cobble Hill.
The Peebles Corp. would be required to add any additional medical services determined to be necessary, but it would not be able to close the emergency room—even if it were deemed unnecessary.
Litigants had fought for a full-service hospital in earlier negotiations with North Shore-LIJ, which took the position that keeping was untenable and therefore non-negotiable, according to one source. The statement of principle suggests that North Shore-LIJ is confident that an independent assessment will agree with its position that a full service community hospital is unnecessary.
Mr. Walden, the attorney, changed his rhetoric in court Wednesday to tout the benefits of a "full-service, state-of-the-art emergency department," calling the emergency department the "heart" of a hospital.
The agreement depends on the Peebles Corp., successfully negotiating a redevelopment deal with SUNY. Both parties say a final accord is near.
Few others in the courtroom called the settlement a victory.
"This is not what we fought for for 18 months," said Julie Semente, an ICU nurse. "A full emergency room is one that is connected to a hospital."
Several nurses said that, without an intensive care unit and surgical facilities as backup, a freestanding emergency department wouldn't be able to treat the most severe medical cases.
Jeff Strabone, a member of the Cobble Hill Association and one of Mr. Walden's clients, said he was "disappointed that ... we got so little." But he hopes that the inclusion of a community needs assessment sets a precedent, so that "in the future medical decisions are based on need."
"Incredibly, the state did no assessment of need when they decided to close LICH," he said. "This should set a precedent so that never happens again."
The university will voluntarily keep emergency room services at LICH operating until May 27, with the expectation of reaching a deal with the Peebles Corp. before that date.
Out of 158 nurses still working at LICH, some 47 are working in the emergency department, said a New York State Nurses Association spokeswoman. The remainder, along with nearly 200 members of union 1199 SEIU, will be escorted out at midnight.
The unions had been part of the initial lawsuit to keep LICH from closing, but did not join in the latest motion.
May 22, 2014
Judge Approves Latest Plan to Keep LICH Up and Running
May 22, 2014
Brooklyn Hospital to Stay Open with Sale Likely
NEW YORK (AP) — A financially strapped Brooklyn hospital will remain on life support past its scheduled closing on Thursday while the state university system negotiates a sale of the facility.
Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill will continue providing walk-in emergency services while a deal is finalized, the State University of New York said Wednesday.
SUNY said walk-in emergency patients will be screened, stabilized and then transferred to other facilities.
Ambulances will still be directed to take emergency patients to other area hospitals. There will be no admissions or inpatient care, SUNY said.
A group led by the Peebles Corporation, a real estate investment and development company, and the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System is offering $260 million for the 6.2-acre hospital campus.
In its proposal, the group said it would keep an emergency department and provide outpatient care including cancer treatment, office-based surgeries and dental, pediatric and geriatric services.
A Peebles Corporation official directed questions Wednesday to a company spokesman. The spokesman did not immediately return a message.
The Peebles/North Shore group entered the negotiation process in early May after SUNY and the top bidder, Brooklyn Health Partners, failed to come to terms on a contract. Under a court order, a deal must be completed within 30 days of the start of talks.
State officials have said Long Island College Hospital has been losing an "unsustainable" $13 million a month.