Showdown at LICH: NYPD Brought in to Stop Patient Transfer

After the DOH approved SUNY's plan to close LICH on Friday, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio secured a last-minute TRO. The hospital remains open for now.

Sen. Daniel Squadron rallies to keep LICH open as SUNY officials tell employees they will close the hospital this weekend. Credit: Daniel Squadron
Sen. Daniel Squadron rallies to keep LICH open as SUNY officials tell employees they will close the hospital this weekend. Credit: Daniel Squadron

Update, Saturday, July 20, 5:50 p.m.: Police came to Long Island College Hospital Saturday to stop SUNY from moving patients to other facilities, an act that was prohibited by a temporary restraining order issued Friday, according to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as well as a nurse from the hospital.  

"There is an abundance of staff and medical supplies here at the hospital and we, the LICH nurses, are more than ready to have those ambulances roll right now," said Linda O'Neil, an emergency room nurse, in a written statement Saturday afternoon.

De Blasio noted on his website that he wrote to the FDNY Saturday to ask them to continue to direct ambulances to the hospital.  

Update, 6:14 p.m.: The restraining order has been served. Long Island College Hospital remains open for now and the ambulance diversion has been lifted.

Update, 5:25 p.m.:
The crowd that had gathered outside of the hospital was directed to move to the opposite side of the street in order to deliver the TRO. After doing so, de Blasio was to present the new restraining order—barring SUNY and the DOH from closing LICH—to interim head James Karkenny.

"We thank NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for his work securing a temporary restraining order to stop SUNY's reckless move to close Long Island College Hospital," said NYSNA representative and RN Jill Furillo. "SUNY has created a healthcare meltdown in Brooklyn—putting patients at extreme risk during an extreme heat wave."

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio told the press that the restraining order effectively overrides the DOH decision. The hospital will remain open for now but what services will be available is unclear.

Still, in the immediate aftermath of the new TRO, the spirits of the protest had been significantly lifted: "We have won another battle to keep LICH open for care!" Furillo wrote.

Council Member Stephen Levin echoed that sentiment, saying "
The fight continues to save Long Island College Hospital thanks to the temporary restraining order sought by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and granted by Judge Johnny Lee Baynes. Today’s court order proves what the community has known all along: SUNY’s maneuver’s to shut down LICH fly in the face of the law and are detrimental to the health of Brooklyn.”

Stay with Patch for updates.

Update, 5 p.m.:
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has secured a new temporary restraining order against SUNY and the Department of Health that would prevent them from closing the hospital.

Reports indicate, however, that SUNY has locked the doors to the hospital and he has been unable to serve the TRO.

Breaking, July 19, 3:45 p.m:
According to members of the NYSNA, the Department of Health has officially approved SUNY's plan to shutter Long Island College Hospital this weekend. 

The closure plan, which was submitted on Wednesday, July 17, according to NY1,
 mandates all remaining patients must be transferred or discharged on or before July 28. The hospital's emergency department will stop admitting patients at noon on Monday and all elective surgeries have been canceled. 

Local politicians, nurses and other activists 
immediately held a press conference outside of LICH in response to the decision.

"DOH's approval of #LICH closure plan is a TERRIBLE mistake,” says Sen. Daniel Squadron. “The decision undermines a solution for the community and Brooklyn.”

Council Member Brad Lander was rushing to the intersection of Pacific and Hicks Streets when he tweeted his solidarity with LICH activists: “Deeply distressed to hear NYS Dept of Health has approved the closure of LICH. On my way there now. Gov. Cuomo, our comm'y needs your help!”

As yet, there has been no comment by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is expected to hold a conference at 5:45 p.m. directly following Senator Squadron's comments.

Stay with Patch for updates.

Update, July 18, 5:30 p.m.: 
Robert Bellafiore, spokesman for SUNY Downstate Medical Center, has issued a statement saying rumors of the hospitals closure are false.

"While SUNY has made it clear that it will not continue to operate LICH, as is reflected in the state-approved sustainability plan for Downstate, the hospital is not closing this weekend. No hospital in New York State can close without the approval of the Department of Health," Bellafiore said.

"SUNY is not selling or moving any equipment. Transfer of patients to other facilities with their consent has been ongoing and there are currently only 18 patients in the hospital and elective surgeries are being rescheduled at different locations."

Original text, July 18, 3 p.m.: In a bold move that blatantly ignores court orders, SUNY Downstate officials are relocating patients, transferring employees and planning to shut down all services at Long Island College Hospital this weekend.

According to a press release sent out from Council Member Stephen Levin's office on Thursday, "Reports from LICH say that doctors and nurses are being told that equipment will be taken out of the hospital, patients will be transferred, and that the last day for surgery is tomorrow [Friday]."

As the news spread, politicians were vocal and vitriolic in their opposition to the closure.

"SUNY is not above the law,” Levin said in the release. “If they attempt to shutter Long Island College Hospital this weekend, as reports show, they will be doing so illegally. The community will not allow this.”

On Twitter, Sen. Daniel Squadron fired off a series of heated posts from a quickly formed rally.

"We're angry," he wrote. "We will not allow SUNY to go rogue and close LICH. No way no how."

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was also at the emergency press conference and issued a statement.

“This community has been lied to," he said. "At the same time SUNY and the Governor promised everything possible was being done to save LICH, they were preparing to sell it off to the highest bidder. SUNY is violating a court order to keep this hospital open, and we won’t let it stand. The same luxury condos being put up over St. Vincent’s will soon rise over LICH if we don’t stop this in its tracks."

Earlier this week, there were reports of interested suitors vying to take over LICH, as part of a new sustainability plan. But now it appears that SUNY is defiantly shutting down operations and removing staff. The timing of the decision is particularly flagrant, what with a heat advisory currently being warned against by city officials.

"SUNY is attempting to move all patients out of LICH by tomorrow—including a small baby in the neo-natal intensive care unit," said Jill Furillo, RN and member of the NYSNA. "Brooklyn patient care is melting down under the combined assault of SUNY's reckless actions and a dangerous heat wave. 

"This past week we've seen patients lining the hallways of Brooklyn ERs, a city council intern who had to wait far too long for an ambulance, and an incredible increase in heat-related emergency room visits." 

Stay with Patch for updates.
Laura Eng July 18, 2013 at 04:32 PM
TSW July 18, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Get the SUNY Board of Thugs out of our hospital, out of any hospital. They are not fit to serve. They don't listen to the courts, city officials, doctors, nurses, the community. They have put us all in danger. Get them out!
Susan Raboy July 18, 2013 at 08:37 PM
LICH Saves Lives! SUNY doesn't care about our Lives! SUNY lies! Where is Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg and both our United States senators? Why don't they care about Brooklyn? What good is Health Care if we don't have access to our doctors & hospital? Thank you. Sue Raboy
Beverly DiCovello July 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM
What are we a three ring circus. Clowns that are risking our lives- to politicians, developers, etc who don't care about our lives. It's all about MONEY. Their limos, their jets, their roll of money. We are a community of people who are fighting to keep this hospital open. Is TAXES- all we have to live for and die fir and thereafter. We have the unborn, young and seniors to look after. Blood and sweat. Not bricks not stones not contracts. Lives that are all around here. We need to LICH. We Need LICH. It's our next best home to go to, when one is sick. We are comforted - by our dedicated doctors, nurses, staff, etc. Their experience working with many generations of patients from near and far. From a two building in the sixties, I saw my grandfather and dad being taken care of, than Hicks Street building opened and my mom was taken care of there. I have a stone on tree in memory of my dad n mom. How can anyone step away and abandon this hospital. There are new residents moving in and have heard of what is going on, they are shocked. They pass by, rushing to work or on evening walks, they can't believe how our hospital and staff are being treated. How it's needed and it's location is so necessary for everyone, that this hospital be kept open. Buyers and politicians are hand in hand. Their easy seat of wealth is comfortable. Easy street of being transported is easy phone call away. We, the community, it's not that easy- in phoning and hoping, that we have ambulance service to get us to our nearest hospital LICH in time- know our doctors will be by our side with experienced dedicated nurses. This is a cry for HELP. PLEASE KEEP LICH OPEN. I've walked in LICH to take care of family, friends and to volunteer. Now, this past year for myself. Many patients and their families come very far, no one says it's too far -as long as it's LICH and our dedicated doctors. Patients and family have appointments near and in LICH. Winter snow and summer heat, don't keep them from coming for their appointments. Plead to keep LICH open.
Roberto July 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains, water, air and other natural and cultural resources are considered by a dwindling minority to be part of the "Commons." They belong to the "public" - you and me. This country's original inhabitants couldn't conceive how the White people were able to kick people off land because of deeds and property rights. Naturally, Black people couldn't get how White people could claim to "own" human beings. While growing up in Queens, I got used to recognizing schools, parks and hospitals as "public" property. Under Bloomberg, the Koch Brothers, the Related Companies, Brookfield Properties and Monsanto we see the Commons being erased and bought. LICH is the latest action of the privatizers and money worshippers. If biotech companies can claim legal rights to own soy beans, alfalfa and other parts of the natural world, why are people upset about hospitals being transformed into condos with wonderful views of the port of New York? What's more important, public health or private wealth?
Jay Nitti July 20, 2013 at 02:11 PM
It's amazing to me that first of all this despicable mayor who wants to control what or how we eat for our own health but is going to allow ANOTHER hospital to close under his watch without so much as a peep. Then we have the disgrace that is our absentee Governor Cuomo who hasn't even tried to compromise or create an alternate plan for LICH. On the contrary he's giving us false hope while conspiring with his rich developer friends. Make no mistake there's no way that the Department of Health would make such a bold move without his blessings. We'll fight, get court orders, protest, etc. but we'll only de delaying the inevitable. LICH will close, not because it's not a sustainable medical facility but because the powers that be want it to build their condos. The rich have spoken. We are no longer in a democracy, this is a plutocracy. The wealthy just buy our politicians, court system, etc. and get whatever they want. There is no consideration for greater good or the people of the community, etc. They have a plan to turn LICH into condos and we can prolong it and make it a little more difficult for them but they will get their way. At the end they'll laugh all the way to the bank and we'll die of a heart attack while the ambulance is trying to get us to a hospital across town. It's a real shame what America has become.
Beverly DiCovello July 20, 2013 at 02:19 PM
where is my comment from 10;30 am? it was on where is it now?
julie July 20, 2013 at 08:31 PM
As all this was going on in Brooklyn, our esteemed mayor & governor were announcing their plans for a weekend together rafting in the Adirondacks
Susan Raboy July 20, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Our Gov. cares more about condos with harbor views than he does about the health care of Brooklyn residents. Shame on him! LICH Saves Lives. Save LICH!
julie July 20, 2013 at 09:03 PM
NY1 reported a statement from the Governors office - all it was is a repeat of SUNY's lies about LICH finances. Nothing about patients, or any of the community's concerns. It was about the amount of money they say LICH "loses". Now they say LICH has to close because it's losing too much money since they shut down services, removed patients, & cut off LICH sources of income. What a racket
TSW July 20, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Join us on Sunday (July 21) at 1PM for a press conference and speakout at LICH calling on SUNY to respect the TRO (Temporary Restraining Order).
Susan Raboy July 20, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Will be there!
julie July 20, 2013 at 11:39 PM
COPS called back to ER now. Downstate's LICH ER director turned away ambulance. NY1 et al on the scene. SUNY is a scandal right now.
Mary A. July 21, 2013 at 10:57 AM
The SUNY officials and administrators responsible for these violations of the TRO should be jailed for contempt. That is the only thing that will work. Otherwise, you can serve a million legal documents and they will ignore them all!
FERNANDO MARTINEZ July 30, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Susan Raboy July 30, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Today there were guards in black suits, guards in blazers and guards in white shirts all standing in the lobby. Talk about non-existent patient privacy as patients were escorted to their doctors as were families visiting patients. Shame on SUNY
julie July 30, 2013 at 08:02 PM
All those guards in suits are wearing weapons including tazers. And lets not forget the armed state police in the grey uniforms & giant guns on their holsters. It's been like this everyday since July 18 - when the community & 4 of their elected officials stormed the executive offices to demand answers. Are the executives afraid of this community & their own employees? It was like this even on the day that the patient supposedly disappeared. Getting out on his own, without being questioned & escorted, is an impossibility. It looks like he was TAKEN out to be put on a bus to Florida. Someone ordered that a missing persons report be filed. If they knew exactly where that patient was but they let the NYPD be tied up on a wild goose chase around Brooklyn for a silver alert on someone who they knew wasn't missing & wasn't even in the city, what are the consequences? Are there any laws that SUNY won't break?
Susan Raboy July 30, 2013 at 08:19 PM
I saw the bulges under the jackets of the supervisors. They looked like retired cops. I have another medical appointment near LICH tomorrow so I might stop in for coffee,


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something