At a meeting of its board of trustees Tuesday, SUNY presented a sweeping restructuring plan that will save its flagship Downstate Hospital while giving away ownership of Long Island College Hospital. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
SUNY laid out its plan Tuesday to not only save its flagship Downstate Hospital, but to create a network with other Brooklyn institutions, with the goal of improving the whole health care system in the borough.
"All of the hospitals will continue to have their own boards," said John Williams, president of SUNY Downstate. "They will continue to have their own finances and infrastructure. This would be a vehicle to bring everyone together so that we can do the contracting, we can do the procurement, we can go to managed care companies."
The proposed network would also allow for a smaller, more efficiently run University Hospital of Brooklyn. UHB would focus more on acute care and shift outpatient services to primary care clinics and in-home visits.
"The goal is to help people not to come into the hospital," Williams said.
It's all part of the sustainability plan required by the state as part of this year's budget agreement, after SUNY Downstate asked for $150 million to save the system.
When it comes to Long Island College Hospital, however, SUNY is sticking by its exit strategy. It's already in talks with other possible operators.
"We're going to be talking to those five institutions and see where the real interest is and see if something can be done," Williams said.
SUNY has wanted to close LICH for some time, but the New York State Nurses Association sued, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order keeping the facility open. Now, the union said it's committed to working with whomever winds up operating the hospital to keep it open.
If the state doesn't approve SUNY's plan, it could mean the sudden closure of Downstate's hospitals and medical school, as well as grave financial consequences for the whole SUNY system.
"If none of this works, and we don't get the money, we have a responsibility to do whatever is necessary to protect the rest of SUNY," said Carl McCall, chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees.
The sustainability plan will be submitted before June 1, with the goal of implementation by June 15. It will need approval from the Department of Health and the division of budget.