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LICH Diverts Ambulances, Transfers Patients From Critical Care Units

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TWC News: LICH Diverts Ambulances, Transfers Patients From Critical Care Units
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SUNY Downstate on Thursday began diverting ambulances from and transferring patients in critical care units out of struggling Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn residents are worried that administrators are moving towards shutting it down. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.

Cobble Hill residents and those in surrounding areas worry about their own medical futures as the apparent health of Long Island College Hospital declines.

"Absolutely sick to see my patient on a ventilator be moved out today to another hospital for no reason," said Julie Semente, a nurse at Long Island College Hospital.

LICH administrators at SUNY Downstate say the reason they're transferring out all intensive care and critical care patients is patient safety.

The hospital also started diverting ambulances to other hospitals at 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

A spokesperson says some two dozen attending physicians, plus numerous other essential staff, have voluntarily resigned.

LICH supporters have staged numerous protests against SUNY Downstate's plan to close the medical facility for economic reasons. In fact, the nurse's union an other groups sued.

"Is there no sense in caring?" said Joan Rowley, a nurse at LICH. "Is there no sense of humanity?"

A judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop the closure, and nurses and doctors maintain that worked until now.

"There are enough doctors now," said one doctor. "What they're concerned about is that there won't be enough doctors after residents leave."

The residency program finishes its current cycle Monday, and residents say they haven't heard plans to continue it.

Despite a judge's order to the hospital to maintain adequate staffing at LICH, including, but not limited to, maintenance of residents and fellows.

"They have repeatedly, in our estimation, and we can see, just ignored Judge [Johnny Lee] Baynes' temporary restraining order," Rowley said.

A spokesperson for SUNY Downstate issued a statement that reads, in part, "The focus of every doctor, nurse, orderly, support professional and administrator at SUNY Downstate is on providing the best and safest care to every patient who comes through our doors. No one has time to ponder the idle speculation of parties in ongoing litigation."

There is a hearing on possible contempt scheduled for July. Meanwhile, the nearest hospitals offering comparable services are about two miles away.

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