500 layoffs at LICH postponed after protests

SUNY Downstate Medical Center has reportedly postponed planned layoffs of 500 employees of Long Island College Hospital (LICH), which were to have been effective as of Tuesday, October 29.

Pink slips went out to medical personnel of the long-struggling community hospital, located at 339 Hicks Street in Cobble Hill, around a week before the intended layoff date.

At least one of the two employee unions, 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East, planned to seek an injunction against the layoffs, on the grounds that its 200-plus members at the hospital did not receive the required 30-day written notice regarding the planned dismissal.

While a spokesperson for LICH’s operator, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, described the move as a way to balance “staffing levels” and “greatly reduced patient volume and limited services,” LICH staff and their supporters see it as just the latest attack on their hospital.

SUNY Downstate had been ordered by a NY State Supreme Court judge to maintain LICH services at the level which existed on July 15, 2013.

On October 25, hospital staff—doctors and nurses affiliated with 1199 SEIU and the NY State Nurses Association (NYSNA)—and their supporters and colleagues from across the city protested against the “layoffs and deep cuts to patient care.”

Interested community members got an update on the situation at an October 28 meeting at the Cobble Hill Health Center at 380 Henry Street, hosted by the Cobble Hill Association. Representatives present included Concerned Physicians of LICH, NYSNA, 1199 SEIU, court-appointed ombudsman Dr. Jon Berall, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

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