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Ambulances Restored to LICH Won't Respond to 'Life-Threatening' Conditions

By Nikhita Venugopal | September 9, 2013 1:19pm
 A protester holds up a sign, which reads "Hope for LICH" in front of Long Island College Hospital, July 29.
A protester holds up a sign, which reads "Hope for LICH" in front of Long Island College Hospital, July 29.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

COBBLE HILL — Ambulance services for basic medical treatment were restored to Long Island College Hospital last week — but hospital administrators urged patients with life-threatening conditions to seek care elsewhere.

"Non-critical FDNY ambulance service" was brought back to the long-suffering hospital,  after Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Demarest snatched LICH from the State University of New York in August and ordered that full services be restored, administrators announced Friday.

LICH will treat abdominal pain, viral and flu-like symptoms, sprains, strains, fractures, lacerations, sore throats and infections, said Steven Greenberg, a SUNY Downstate spokesman.

But patients suffering from "life-threatening conditions," like strokes, heart attacks, spinal cord injuries and complications due to pregnancy, were urged to avoid the struggling hospital, because of "limited physician availability and resources," according to the SUNY statement.

“While we can accommodate limited ambulance service and provide basic medical care, the public must understand that LICH is not a fully operational hospital,” SUNY Downstate President Dr. John Williams said in a statement.

The projected losses at LICH for September are $19 million. 

The ambulance diversion officially ended Friday afternoon and, by evening, at least two ambulances brought patients to the emergency room, the Brooklyn Paper reported.

Demarest, who vacated her May 2011 order transferring LICH's $1 billion real estate and hospital assets to SUNY Downstate Holding Company last month, ordered that full medical services be restored to LICH by Sept. 11.

SUNY Downstate, which is still running LICH while a new operator is sought, ordered ambulances to divert emergency cases from the hospital in June.

A complete healthcare facility would be hard to achieve “given the current devastated level of services at LICH,” the judge wrote.  “… but a fully operational emergency department, [intensive care unit,] and ambulance service must be achieved by that date,” she wrote in her order, referring to the Sept. 11 deadline, according to the newspaper.