After a day of public testimony and another day of legal debates between the legal teams representing the State University of New York (SUNY) and Long Island College Hospital (LICH) employee unions and supporters, the temporary restraining order (TRO) against SUNY’s desired closure of LICH has been upheld. This is the second time that the restraining order has been reaffirmed, and it is the third TRO issued against SUNY regarding LICH.
Kings County Judge Johnny Lee Baynes upheld the TRO forbidding SUNY from taking any steps to close the hospital or any of its patient services. However, since several departments and services have already been closed or very nearly so, with patients either transferred or rerouted to other hospitals instead, it is uncertain what effect this confirmation will have.
The ruling was welcomed as a small victory for LICH supporters such as the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), 1199 SEIU, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who in late July obtained the latest TRO and also sued SUNY.
“”It’s time for SUNY to abide by the temporary restraining orders and stop diverting ambulances from LICH. Every moment they wait to do that, they are putting Brooklyn patients at risk,” said Jill Furillo, executive director of NYSNA.
The legal teams are due back in court on Thursday, August 9.
It will be the first of more discussions to determine what to do next, and whether any criminal charges are warranted against SUNY for their actions over the past few months, which includes diverting ambulances away from LICH, closing–and then reopening–the Emergency Room, closing several departments and care units, and allegedly hiring “a virtual army of armed guards” to surround the hospital and tell patients that the hospital is closed.