New lease on life for LICH?

The troubled Long Island College Hospital may have a new lease on life.

After outcry from members of the healthcare community, elected officials and residents, on February 20, Judge Betsy Barros issued a temporary restraining order against the planned closure – a day after SUNY submitted its official closure plan to state health officials, who must approve it before any closure occurs.

The order was praised by many in the healthcare industry.

“The vote to close LICH was premature, irresponsible and dangerous for Brooklyn patients and working families,” said 1199SEIU president George Gresham. “While this injunction is in place, we will continue to escalate our grassroots fight to keep LICH’s vital healthcare services and good jobs in our community.”

“This temporary restraining order is an encouraging sign that shows what can happen when an entire community — doctors, nurses, hospital staff, patients, community leaders and elected officials — work together toward the common good,” added Toomas Sorra, M.D., president of Concerned Physicians for LICH.

“But it is only the first step. SUNY has suffered a setback, but will continue to press their case for closing this hospital,” he went on. “The LICH community’s challenge is to use the time this restraining order provides to show the Health Department that Brooklyn is united in its determination not to lose yet another hospital and strongly supports efforts to save LICH, an excellent and viable community hospital that has served its communities since the 1850s.”

Barros has set a public hearing date for March 7 at Brooklyn Supreme Court. Those who wish to testify can do so.

Brooklyn politicians have also requested to extend the Cobble Hill Historic District’s boundaries to include LICH’s footprint. This would put a 50-foot height restriction on the area, preventing rumored condo development from occurring should LICH close, given concerns that the main goal in closing LICH is to capitalize on its $500 million estimated real estate value.

The letters were signed by Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senators Daniel Squadron and Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblymember Joan Millman, and Councilmembers Brad Lander and Stephen Levin.

Reporting contributed by Heather J. Chin.

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