Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital stopped taking fire department ambulances Thursday morning, in accordance with the closure plan approved by the state Health department. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
Frankie Samaha has owned a deli around the corner from Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill for 24 years. Losing FDNY ambulance service, he says, is a blow to his peace of mind.
"It's sad. It's very sad. I mean you know you're having a heart attack, where are you gonna go? There's nowhere to go," Samaha said.
LICH stopped accepting fire department ambulance patients Thursday morning. It's the latest step towards SUNY Downstate completing its shutdown of the money-losing hospital next week.
"It's been quite something for us to have LICH there; it's always had a great reputation," said Thomas Amon, a Cobble Hill resident.
LICH ambulances will still transport their patients to the campus until the hospital shuts down. But now when FDNY medics respond to an emergency in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and other areas they will have to go to hospitals farther away in Sunset Park and East Flatbush.
"Not good for patient health, not good in an emergency. The hospital is necessary for the neighborhood," said Mark Feinberg, a Cobble Hill resident.
A week and a half ago, SUNY pulled the plug on a deal with top bidder Brooklyn Health Partners on its list to buy the facility. Several leaders including Mayor Bill de Blasio doubted BHP had the money to operate a full-service hospital. Now SUNY is negotiating with the number two bidder which plans only partial hospital services on the property.
"The real estate interests are now having a feeding frenzy over the property, unfortunately," Amon said.
Longtime residents doubt they will ever see a hospital in the neighborhood again. They believe the plan all along was to turn the property into luxury apartments.
"It's purely a matter of economics and it's not the economics for the neighborhood it's the economics for real estate developers so they can sell some apartments," said Mark Feinberg, a Cobble Hill resident.
Over the years Samaha says he has seen his neighborhood become one of the hottest in the city for developers.
"That's what they talk about. Real estate. That's what it's all about," he said.
BHP has filed a lawsuit against SUNY claiming it did not negotiate in good faith. Meanwhile, time is ticking away as services at LICH are set to fully end next week.