Layoff notices to Long Island College Hospital’s (LICH) 1,800 employees were sent out Tuesday night, March 19 — less than a day after the SUNY Board of Trustees (which oversees LICH and SUNY Downstate Medical Center) voted a second time to close the 155-year-old Cobble Hill hospital that is the last remaining hospital in South Brooklyn.
The closest hospitals are Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene and New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope. Both are at least two miles of roads and highways away.
The layoffs warn employees that the hospital could shut down within 90 days — by Monday, June 17.
However, the SUNY Board’s desire to close the hospital must be approved by the New York State Department of Health.
SUNY Downstate, which bought LICH in 2011, claims that the hospital is a drain on its resources and “is not a sustainable enterprise,” according to SUNY spokesperson Robert Bellafiore in a statement to the NY Daily News.
However, thousands of nurses, patients, residents and political leaders have rallied and protested in support of keeping LICH alive, maintaining that the entire Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn Heights communities have been shut out of the closure process and not notified of the intent to close until it was too late.
State Supreme Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes overturned SUNY’s initial decision to close the hospital, stating that the board violated open meetings laws.
“SUNY cannot bully the dedicated caregivers of LICH into leaving their posts,” said nurses’ union executive director Jill Furillo. “Brooklyn patients need us now more than ever.”
SUNY trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to close the 150-year-old Hicks St. hospital.
Their vote at SUNY Purchase in Westchester County was a do-over of an earlier decision which Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Johnny Lee Baynes voided in a lawsuit brought by LICH unions and doctors.
Closing LICH would harm the health of residents and workers in downtown Brooklyn and brownstone neighborhoods and cause overcrowding at other Brooklyn hospitals’ emergency rooms, union leaders and workers argue.
Downstate bought LICH in 2011 and has been a big drain on Downstate’s finances since then, an audit by state Controller Thomas DiNapoli found.