Supporters of Long Island College Hospital fighting to save the struggling hospital won a small battle in court Thursday, but the war isn't over, as the agreement says that the Cobble Hill hospital will be sold for $260 million, but as a mixed-used facility, and not the full-service hospital that locals have been advocating for. NY1's Rocco Vertuccio filed the following report.
It's a bittersweet victory for supporters of Long Island College Hospital, who have been fighting for more than a year to save the financially strapped hospital.
"Obviously, we're disappointed that we don't have a full-service hospital, but we do support the process here," said LICH supporter Nancy Udell.
LICH's owner, SUNY Downstate, will sell the hospital to the Peebles Corporation for $260 million for a mixed-use development. It will include some hospital services, but not the full-service hospital supporters wanted.
The health care part of the deal was hammered out in a Brooklyn courtroom Thursday morning. Under the deal, SUNY will continue to operate the emergency room at LICH without ambulance services through Tuesday. North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital would then take over and operate the ER using SUNY's license until North Shore gets its own. Ambulance services would be restored no later than July 15. Peebles will pay for the medical facility.
"What we really need is a hospital," said LICH supporter Manny Maldonado. "An ER is not doing us any good if we don't have a hospital to attend to these guys."
Many LICH supporters believe the deal could be better, especially since the first agreement SUNY reached last month with Brooklyn Health Partners did include a full-service hospital. That deal fell apart because of concerns over BHP's finances.
"What good is an urgent care if you don't have a hospital to go to?" said LICH supporter Susan Raboy.
The only hope for more services in the future will be based on a community study. A neutral party will survey the health needs of the neighborhoods surrounding LICH. If the study finds they are needed, Peebles would work with the community to add them.
"Now, it's just a matter of the assessors to come in and see what they are going to do and how long it's going to take," Maldonado said. "Time is crucial."
The judge overseeing the negotiations did sign the agreement. He said if the deal falls through, the process would start all over again with another bidder. LICH supporters will be watching.