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State Approves Plan to Close Long Island College Hospital

 Dozens of protesters gathered in front of LICH, fighting SUNY Downstate's decision to end emergency ambulance service to the hospital.
Protesters at Long Island College Hospital
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COBBLE HILL — The state Department of Health approved the first steps of a plan to close Long Island College Hospital Friday.

The state DOH ordered that LICH will become an outpatient only facility as of noon on July 22, according to a letter from the state DOH addressed to Dr. John Williams, president of State University of New York's Downstate Medical Center, which owns LICH.

The medical center will continue to operate its Emergency Department along with all "supportive ancillary services" like laboratory, radiology, social work and pharmacy until July 29.

The letter also stated that LICH will transfer or discharge all remaining inpatients "on or before July 28," in accordance with Federal and State requirements for discharge planning.

Doctors, nurses and hospital supporters rallied, Thursday, after administrators ordered the staff to begin discharging patients.

SUNY Downstate submitted a plan to close the hospital, July 17, the letter stated.

LICH will also cancel its elective surgery schedule, “effective July 22”. "All patients and their physicians will be notified of the cancelations so that procedures can be re-scheduled at other facilities."

While only the first steps of SUNY's closure plan for LICH, which is losing $15 million a month, the state DOH will continue to work toward the "approval and implementation" of the remaining plan, according to the letter and SUNY officials.

Community members and elected officials lashed out at the state government and SUNY following the news of the approval.

"DOH's approval of the LICH closure plan is a terrible mistake. We are already seeing the consequences during this extreme and dangerous heat wave," said state Sen. Daniel Squadron, in a statement.

"By allowing SUNY to mothball LICH before a new operator is in place, DOH's decision undermines a long-term healthcare solution for the community and Brooklyn.  There are solutions for LICH, and significant interest from potential operators -- but the state and SUNY have come together to undermine those, instead of working collaboratively to make them a reality."

"Appalled at DOH's approval of SUNY's illegal plan to shutdown LICH, decision to create a healthcare crisis in Brooklyn. #SaveLICH," tweeted Councilman Stephen Levin.

"Brooklyn patient care is MELTING DOWN. @HealthNYGov approves dangerous plan to close LICH. Fight back rally starting now! #SaveLICH!," tweeted the New York State Nurses Association, one of the unions that has spent months battling the LICH closure.