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New Search Needed for Long Island College Hospital Operator, Advocates Say

By Nikhita Venugopal | January 27, 2014 9:32am
 Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St., in Cobble Hill.
Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St., in Cobble Hill.
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University Hospital of Brooklyn

COBBLE HILL — Community advocates who are fighting to save Long Island College Hospital are asking the State University of New York to make a fresh start in their search for an operator to take over the struggling hospital.

Six community groups sent an open letter to SUNY, Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials, claiming that SUNY’s “Request for Proposal” process is invalid and was not conducted with the community in mind.

“It has been neither fair nor transparent,” the letter reads. “Indeed, no community stakeholders, not even our elected representatives, were consulted during preparation of the RFP or the evaluation of responses.”

The six groups — Boerum Hill Association, Cobble Hill Association, Brooklyn Heights Association, Riverside Tenants Association, Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association and Wykoff Gardens Association — asked SUNY to halt its current RFP process and start a new one, to focus on community health needs.

SUNY inflated LICH's debt and operating expenses to discourage proposals from operators who would run a full-service hospital, the groups argue.

SUNY claims that LICH's financial liabilities totaled $513 million at a Dec. 2013 meeting, according to the groups.

Earlier this month, two of the city’s most prominent hospitals proposed taking over the struggling Long Island College Hospital. NYU Langone Medical Center proposed turning LICH into a 60,000-square-foot medical center with a freestanding emergency department and cancer center. Brooklyn Hospital proposed closing LICH and adding 1,000 mixed-income residential units and creating a “comprehensive care center.”

“We believe that health care comes first,” the local advocates said in their letter, criticizing the recent development proposals. “Excess properties should be developed if needed to support the mission of a hospital. Making medical services an appendage to a condo development demonstrates exactly the opposite outcome that a proper RFP would have produced."

SUNY is currently reviewing proposals from the groups that responded to the initial RFP last year, but the university has not announced a timeline for a final decision.

“SUNY has tried since day one to identify a provider of health care services for the LICH community and continues to do so through the state’s formal and well defined RFP process,” SUNY spokesman David Doyle said in an email Friday afternoon.