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City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution to Save LICH

By Nikhita Venugopal | April 25, 2013 1:07pm | Updated on April 25, 2013 5:36pm

COBBLE HILL — The City Council unanimously passed a resolution to save Long Island College Hospital from shuttering Thursday afternoon, officials announced.

The resolution, sponsored by Councilmen Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, calls on the State University of New York and the State Department of Health to work with stakeholders to find another owner for the Cobble Hill hospital.

It also seeks to ensure "all resources gained from any sale or transfer of LICH assets" will go toward the hospital, rather than being diverted to other venues in the interim of deciding its fate and authorizes "the Speaker to file or join amicus briefs on behalf of the Council in support of preserving services," according to the resolution.

Dozens of LICH advocates gathered to support a resolution to save, on the steps of City Hall, Thursday morning, before the vote took place. The resolution was approved by the City Council’s health committee Wednesday.

Nurses, physicians, patients and local officials leading the fight to save LICH joined speakers including Borough President Marty Markowitz, Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Joan Millman and Councilwoman Letitia James.

“Governor Cuomo, this is the time for leadership,” said James, referring to Cuomo’s power to prevent LICH from closing.

For months, the saga surrounding the hospital has continued with court-ordered public meetings, votes for closure, protests and restraining orders.

SUNY responded to the resolution, citing a $4 million monthly loss in operating LICH as their reason for closing the hospital, but added that losing the hospital and medical school "would be tragic," SUNY said in a letter to the City Council health committee, dated April 23.

"SUNY Board of Trustees have charged Downstate leadership with identifying ways to maintain a financially viable healthcare presence in Cobble Hill to continue to meet the needs of the community," according to the letter.

SUNY Downstate, which owns LICH, was sanctioned by a judge for not properly publicizing a Feb. 7 meeting, and then held a second public meeting before voting to close the hospital on March 19.

But plans to shutter LICH were halted again earlier this month when a Brooklyn judge granted a restraining order, preventing SUNY and the Department of Health from closing the hospital till a hearing in May. The court hearing was originally scheduled for May 2, but it has been postponed till May 29, according to a press release from the New York State Nurses Association.

The State Department of Health will have to approve the closure before it can become final.

Susan Raboy, a former patient at LICH, stayed at the hospital for almost a month in August 2011 when she suffered from a perforated colon, she said at the press conference.

Raboy, who has lived in Brooklyn Heights for more than 40 years, said she would have died had it not been for the LICH staff and her close proximity to the hospital.

“No one should have to live with that fear,” she said.