Update, Saturday, July 20, 5:50 p.m.: Police came to Long Island College Hospital Saturday to stop SUNY from moving patients to other facilities, an act that was prohibited by a temporary restraining order issued Friday, according to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as well as a nurse from the hospital.
"There is an abundance of staff and medical supplies here at the hospital and we, the LICH nurses, are more than ready to have those ambulances roll right now," said Linda O'Neil, an emergency room nurse, in a written statement Saturday afternoon.
De Blasio noted on his website that he wrote to the FDNY Saturday to ask them to continue to direct ambulances to the hospital.Update, 6:14 p.m.: The restraining order has been served. Long Island College Hospital remains open for now and the ambulance diversion has been lifted.
Update, 5:25 p.m.: The crowd that had gathered outside of the hospital was directed to move to the opposite side of the street in order to deliver the TRO. After doing so, de Blasio was to present the new restraining order—barring SUNY and the DOH from closing LICH—to interim head James Karkenny.
"We thank NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for his work securing a temporary restraining order to stop SUNY's reckless move to close Long Island College Hospital," said NYSNA representative and RN Jill Furillo. "SUNY has created a healthcare meltdown in Brooklyn—putting patients at extreme risk during an extreme heat wave."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio told the press that the restraining order effectively overrides the DOH decision. The hospital will remain open for now but what services will be available is unclear.
Still, in the immediate aftermath of the new TRO, the spirits of the protest had been significantly lifted: "We have won another battle to keep LICH open for care!" Furillo wrote.
Council Member Stephen Levin echoed that sentiment, saying "The fight continues to save Long Island College Hospital thanks to the temporary restraining order sought by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and granted by Judge Johnny Lee Baynes. Today’s court order proves what the community has known all along: SUNY’s maneuver’s to shut down LICH fly in the face of the law and are detrimental to the health of Brooklyn.”
Stay with Patch for updates.
Update, 5 p.m.: Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has secured a new temporary restraining order against SUNY and the Department of Health that would prevent them from closing the hospital.
Reports indicate, however, that SUNY has locked the doors to the hospital and he has been unable to serve the TRO.
Breaking, July 19, 3:45 p.m: According to members of the NYSNA, the Department of Health has officially approved SUNY's plan to shutter Long Island College Hospital this weekend.
The closure plan, which was submitted on Wednesday, July 17, according to NY1, mandates all remaining patients must be transferred or discharged on or before July 28. The hospital's emergency department will stop admitting patients at noon on Monday and all elective surgeries have been canceled.
Local politicians, nurses and other activists immediately held a press conference outside of LICH in response to the decision.
"DOH's approval of #LICH closure plan is a TERRIBLE mistake,” says Sen. Daniel Squadron. “The decision undermines a solution for the community and Brooklyn.”
Council Member Brad Lander was rushing to the intersection of Pacific and Hicks Streets when he tweeted his solidarity with LICH activists: “Deeply distressed to hear NYS Dept of Health has approved the closure of LICH. On my way there now. Gov. Cuomo, our comm'y needs your help!”
As yet, there has been no comment by Governor Andrew Cuomo.Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is expected to hold a conference at 5:45 p.m. directly following Senator Squadron's comments.
Stay with Patch for updates.
Update, July 18, 5:30 p.m.: Robert Bellafiore, spokesman for SUNY Downstate Medical Center, has issued a statement saying rumors of the hospitals closure are false.
"While SUNY has made it clear that it will not continue to operate LICH, as is reflected in the state-approved sustainability plan for Downstate, the hospital is not closing this weekend. No hospital in New York State can close without the approval of the Department of Health," Bellafiore said.
"SUNY is not selling or moving any equipment. Transfer of patients to other facilities with their consent has been ongoing and there are currently only 18 patients in the hospital and elective surgeries are being rescheduled at different locations."
Original text, July 18, 3 p.m.: In a bold move that blatantly ignores court orders, SUNY Downstate officials are relocating patients, transferring employees and planning to shut down all services at Long Island College Hospital this weekend.
According to a press release sent out from Council Member Stephen Levin's office on Thursday, "Reports from LICH say that doctors and nurses are being told that equipment will be taken out of the hospital, patients will be transferred, and that the last day for surgery is tomorrow [Friday]."
As the news spread, politicians were vocal and vitriolic in their opposition to the closure.
"SUNY is not above the law,” Levin said in the release. “If they attempt to shutter Long Island College Hospital this weekend, as reports show, they will be doing so illegally. The community will not allow this.”
On Twitter, Sen. Daniel Squadron fired off a series of heated posts from a quickly formed rally.
"We're angry," he wrote. "We will not allow SUNY to go rogue and close LICH. No way no how."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was also at the emergency press conference and issued a statement.
“This community has been lied to," he said. "At the same time SUNY and the Governor promised everything possible was being done to save LICH, they were preparing to sell it off to the highest bidder. SUNY is violating a court order to keep this hospital open, and we won’t let it stand. The same luxury condos being put up over St. Vincent’s will soon rise over LICH if we don’t stop this in its tracks."
Earlier this week, there were reports of interested suitors vying to take over LICH, as part of a new sustainability plan. But now it appears that SUNY is defiantly shutting down operations and removing staff. The timing of the decision is particularly flagrant, what with a heat advisory currently being warned against by city officials.
"SUNY is attempting to move all patients out of LICH by tomorrow—including a small baby in the neo-natal intensive care unit," said Jill Furillo, RN and member of the NYSNA. "Brooklyn patient care is melting down under the combined assault of SUNY's reckless actions and a dangerous heat wave.
"This past week we've seen patients lining the hallways of Brooklyn ERs, a city council intern who had to wait far too long for an ambulance, and an incredible increase in heat-related emergency room visits."
Stay with Patch for updates.