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SUNY Schedules Court-Ordered Public Meeting on LICH Closure in Westchester

COBBLE HILL — One day after a judge ruled that the State University of New York must hold a public meeting on its plan to close Long Island College Hospital, SUNY's Board of Trustees quickly scheduled a hearing — in Westchester.

SUNY plans to hold a meeting March 19 at Purchase College, more than 30 miles north of the Cobble Hill hospital, to give the public a chance to comment on the closure plan, the university announced.

SUNY's board already met last month and approved a plan to close the hospital, but a Brooklyn Judge ruled Thursday that the Feb. 7 meeting, held at SUNY College of Optometry in Manhattan, did not comply with the state's Open Meetings Law, because the hospital's closure was not on the agenda.

Judge Johnny Lee Baynes ordered SUNY to reschedule the meeting, this time complying with the law, which is designed to help the general public stay informed.

"The determination [to close LICH] is annulled and the [SUNY trustees] are enjoined from proceeding with the plan to close LICH until such time as they comply with the mandates of the Open Meetings Law and all other applicable statutory provisions," Baynes said in a statement Thursday.

SUNY quickly reacted to the ruling, scheduling the meeting for early next week, according to a press release posted Thursday evening.

At the March 19 meeting, SUNY's board is expected to approve SUNY Downstate President Dr. John Williams' recommendation to close the hospital, according to its website.

Dr. Toomas Sorra, president of Concerned Physicians of LICH, criticized SUNY for rapidly scheduling the meeting outside the city.

"It was just too short notice," he said. "I think it's ridiculous."

Video conferences of the meeting will also be set up at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. and State University Plaza in Albany.

Each person attending the public hearing can speak for three minutes if they register before the hearing begins, according to a SUNY spokeswoman.