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Long Island College Hospital to Stay Open As Court Delays Decision

By Nikhita Venugopal | March 8, 2013 2:52pm | Updated on March 8, 2013 2:56pm

BROOKLYN — A Brooklyn judge gave Long Island Collge Hospital a reprieve Friday when he continued a temporary restraining order barring SUNY Downstate from moving ahead with plans to shut it down.

Judge Johnny Lee Baynes said that he planned to make a “comprehensive decision” about the hospital's fate at a future date, according to LICH supporters.

"It's a victory that the [Temporary Restraining Order] is continued," said Richard Seltzer, attorney for the New York State Nurses Association, one of the parties suing to keep the hospital open.

The restraining order allows LICH to accept patients and continue their care of individuals who are currently admitted at the hospital.

The court has yet to schedule a date for the next hearing on the hospital's fate, according to a representative from the nurses' association.

Nurses, physicians and LICH allies, who gathered outside the courtroom following the hearing, hailed the court’s ruling as a win for them.

“It was a necessary decision,” said Judia Payne, who has been a nurse at the hospital for 24 years. She hoped the order would lead to an investigation of “the real reason they’re closing the hospital.”

Early last month, the SUNY board of trustees voted to close the hospital after Dr. John Williams, president of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, which oversees LICH, said it was losing millions of dollars.

Community members, politicians, nurses and physicians have rallied behind the hospital since the announcement of SUNY’s plan to close it.

Susan Raboy, who was at Friday’s hearing, said she might have died if she hadn't been able to rush to the hospital two years ago for a perforated colon.

“I might not have lived to get to another hospital,” Raboy said at Friday’s hearing. Susan Shanahan, a nurse on the surgical floor, said that despite the threat of closure, the hospital is running normally.

“It’s business as usual,” said Shanahan, who added that 35 out of her floor’s 42 beds were currently occupied as of Friday morning.

Shanahan said she was pleased by the court’s decision, as it would keep the hospital open for patients. In the mean time, said Shanahan, “we're going to fight the good fight.”