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Group Rallies As Judge Allows LICH To Temporarily Remain Open

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TWC News: Group Rallies As Judge Allows LICH To Temporarily Remain Open
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Long Island College Hospital remains open for business, at least for now, as a judge decides on a case that could determine its future. Meanwhile, opponents of the plan to close the hospital remain vocal. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

Braving the snow, dozens of employees and supporters of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) rallied outside State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. Their message: don't close our hospital.

Local elected officials like Borough President Marty Markowitz were there to lend their support, too.

"Brooklyn's population is not diminishing. It is increasing," Markowitz said. "There is an increasing need for a health care institution in that section of Brooklyn."

SUNY Downstate Medical Center runs LICH but wants to close the 150-year-old hospital. Downstate said LICH is losing $4 million to $5 million a month and is adding to an already bleak financial situation at Downstate itself. Downstate is set to run out of cash in March.

The SUNY Board of Trustees voted to support closing LICH, and a plan to do so was filed with the New York State Department of Health. But opponents of the shutdown sued, and a judge issued a temporary restraining order.

After a hearing on Friday, the judge held off on a decision, but said the order will remain in effect while he considers whether the SUNY board acted properly.

"It's another day, and maybe another few days that these patients will continue to receive that quality patient care," said Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association.

"The people of Brooklyn need us to continue to give us good health care, and I'm hoping that any reasonable individual would see that this is an important issue," said Dr. Alice Garner, a physician at LICH.

The question in the case is whether the SUNY Board of Trustees broke the state's open meetings law by holding a closed-door executive session.

"The arguments we made to the judge is that they didn't explain it, they didn't have a right to do it," said Richard Seltzer, an attorney for the New York State Nurses Association.

But the state's attorney argued that the trustees did have the right to go into executive session. A SUNY spokesman said they will respect the process and await the judge's ruling.

"The judge said he will render a comprehensive decision that will be fair, unbiased and impartial. He didn't give a timetable, other than saying it will be quick.

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