Over the weekend, a hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn received a new lease on life and a new name, by becoming the first private medical center in New York State taken over by a public one. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The sign at the top of the hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn still says "Long Island College Hospital." But the other signs now say "SUNY Downstate Medical Center -- University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital." It is a mouthful but the hospital are digesting it wholeheartedly.
"We have a lot of work to do. It's very difficult to do these kinds of mergers. Every hospital has its own culture. But those are the kinds of challenges I think we're up to," said SUNY Downstate Medical Center President John LaRosa.
The official switch happened over the weekend. It was mostly administrative, as patients were discharged and readmitted as they slept. The official announcement came Monday morning.
"We're going to have a stronger medical institution here that is going to serve Red Hook, Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights," said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.
The hospital was on the chopping block and was nearly closed. But it was saved in February when the Cuomo administration finally agreed to a $62 million deal reached by former Governor David Paterson to merge LICH with SUNY Downstate.
"We are a medical university at Downstate, and that means we teach the next generation of health professionals. We have to teach them at hospitals," said LaRosa.
SUNY Downstate now has three campuses in Brooklyn. This one, another in Bay Ridge and its main facility in East Flatbush.
The collaboration with LICH is the first time in state history that a private medical center is taken over by a public one. The move helped save 2,500 jobs.
"The paramedics, the clinical staff, the lab workers, the PCs, the building service employees and many more others," said 1199 union representative Clarence Brotherson.
It will also provide stability for its patients.
"Many women who were pregnant felt they couldn't take a chance, have their babies delivered here, because maybe the unit wouldn't be open," said Brooklyn Assemblywoman Joan Millman.
This second chance for LICH is a new opportunity for SUNY Downstate, to expand its services and facilities as a medical education hub.