Brooklyn can't afford to lose another hospital.
That was the message being trumpeted by members of the New York State Nurses Association Thursday night, as they braved below freezing temperatures at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court St. to recruit support for keeping LICH's doors open.
After an audit released by the New York State Comptroller’s office revealed a fiscal crisis at SUNY Downstate and its affiliated institutions, . But champions of the Cobble Hill hospital intend to fight for its place in the borough.
"It's a travesty, for the community and for all of Brooklyn," said Julie Semente, a 30-year employee of the hospital. "I feel we were duped. After more than a decade of being abused and neglected by Continuum Health Partners, the merger with SUNY Downstate was presented as a way to revitalize LICH. Now we're being used as a scapegoat for a financial situation that existed prior to acquiring us."
Besides that, ICU nurse Linda O'Neil interjected, Downtown Brooklyn is the site of too many development projects and new housing created over the last decade to sustain the loss of a hospital.
"God forbid something were ever to happen at the Barclays Center, we are the closest available medical resource," she noted. "We are also the closest hospital to the waterfront and the Brooklyn Bridge piers. Closing LICH will strain all of the other hospitals. It's not just about us as employees. It's about the people we serve."
At Friday morning's rally, elected officials will echo those sentiments. "The potential closure of any campus is unacceptable... SUNY must develop a stabilization plan that provides a long-term solution for the hospitals and Brooklyn," stated a release Thursday afternoon from Sen. Daniel Squadron's office.
Local politicians expected to participate in Friday's rally include Squadron, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Assemblymember Joan Millman, Councilmembers Stephen Levin and Diana Reyna, representatives of Borough President Marty Markowitz, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, and Councilmember Brad Lander.
Representatives of 1199 SEIU, New York State Nurses Association, LICH nurses and caregivers, and other community members will also be in attendance.
To attend the rally, supporters are encouraged to congregate at the intersection of Hicks and Pacific Streets, Brooklyn at 11 a.m.