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Judge Wants LICH Bidders to Work on Deal to Keep Facility Alive

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A judge made an unusual request Thursday as he worked with the bidders vying to take over Long Island College Hospital, asking all parties to settle differences and work together to come up with an agreement, as the facility took another step towards shutting down its services. NY1's Magee Hickey filed the following report.

On Thursday, Brooklyn Judge Johnny Lee Baynes came up with a novel solution to save Long Island College Hospital. He asked lawyers for the Department of Health, the State University of New York, the unions and six community groups, along with the three competitive bidders, to settle their differences and all work together to come up with an agreement over the redevelopment of LICH.

"This is an extraordinarily valuable piece of property that overlooks the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. There's literally billions of dollars worth of real estate here," said Jim Walden, an attorney representing community groups. "Trying to find a hospital out of this should not be as difficult as it's been."

Activist Jeff Strabone of the Cobble Hill Association is the most optimistic he's been in in a long time.

"We don't care how they make the sausage," Strabone said. "We care about saving the hospital because that will save lives."

The three competitive bidders released statements saying they'd give it a try.

"Prime healthcare foundation's goal is to operate this hospital as an acute care facility which the community wants and deserves. We welcome involvement in any group discussion," a statement from Prime Healthcare read.

Fortis Group added that any discussion would remain confidential, and Peebles, which was the number 2 bidder after Brooklyn Health Partners, said it wants "to provide continuity of health care and state-of-the-art services to the LICH community."

As for BHP, it's filed a lawsuit against SUNY after it squashed its agreement over financing concerns.

The judge's request came on the same day that money-losing LICH stopped accepting fire department ambulances.

People who live and work in the Brooklyn neighborhood are somewhat confused by this latest effort from the judge:

"I've worked in the medical industry before," said one person in the neighborhood. "I've never seen anybody be able to work together to come up with something that ultimately would be beneficial to everybody."

"I'd like to hope so," said another. "It's nice having it in the community, but maybe the more the merrier."

Unless a solution is found quickly, LICH is scheduled to close on May 22.

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