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De Blasio Urges SUNY to Begin Negotiations with Other LICH Bidders

 Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St.
Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

COBBLE HILL — In the wake of reports that the coalition chosen to take over Long Island College Hospital might not be able to deliver on its proposal, Mayor Bill de Blasio called on state officials Wednesday to begin negotiations with other bidders interested in taking over the beleaguered facility.

De Blasio expressed concerns about mounting reports that Brooklyn Health Partners, a three-month old coalition tapped earlier this month to run a full service hospital at the Cobble Hill site, might come up short when the time comes to take over.

BHP had vowed to offer 300 to 400 hospital beds and 1,000 residential units along with affordable housing. But labor unions 1199 SEIU and the New York State Nurses Association have since raised concerns that the coalition might not be able to deliver on its proposal.

De Blasio said in a statement that he sought to protect “continuous high-level health care” at LICH as per a settlement reached in February.

“To make good on this promise, those proposals that are unable to deliver health care at LICH should be bypassed, and those that can must be engaged," the mayor said in a statement. "I urge SUNY to open a new dialogue with additional bidders, so health care can be saved at this facility for tens of thousands of New Yorkers." 

SUNY officials did not respond to request for comment.

Union representatives said they were initially "cautiously optimistic that [BHP] would work cooperatively and transparently with the community to ensure continuity of care.” 

“However, in recent weeks we have grown concerned that BHP has avoided being specific about their plans for keeping the hospital open. They have no apparent plan for continuity of care and they have refused to engage productively,” Kevin Finnegan, 1199SEIU director of politics and legislation and Jill Furillo, executive director of NYSNA, said in a joint emailed statement.

Eight other proposals were submitted to take over LICH through a “Request for Proposal” process that came out a settlement in February.

If SUNY were to end negotiations with BHP, the state would move to the proposal that received the next highest score — the Peebles Corporation whose $260 million proposal would provide a 24-hour freestanding emergency department, an urgent care center and residential units with 35 percent affordable housing.

Doubts grew around BHP's proposal after it was revealed that the company would not have a license to run the hospital by the end of May, when SUNY would exit operations from LICH.

Crain’s New York Business reported that BHP was also planning to build two 50-story residential towers at the hospital site.

But representatives for BHP defended their solvency.

“Brooklyn Health Partners (BHP) is committed to delivering its commitments as stated i[n] its Request For Proposal and we are working diligently to deliver those goals," spokeswoman Donnette Dunbar said in an email. 

"On May 5, BHP will make a $25 million non-refundable payment and show it has the financial means to complete the entire project. We would hope that the mayor and other stakeholders would judge BHP, not on unsubstantiated rumors, but on its performance.”