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Protesters Demand Cuomo Save Long Island College Hospital From Closing

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TWC News: Protesters Demand Cuomo Save Long Island College Hospital From Closing
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As both sides wait for the courts to settle the future of the Long Island College Hospital, community leaders made their case Sunday for Governor Andrew Cuomo to intervene and keep the Brooklyn facility open. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

With the future of Long Island College Hospital still uncertain, community leaders and employees rallied again Sunday to keep the Cobble Hill facility open. They called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to intervene and use his power to influence the state Department of Health and SUNY Downstate, the current operator of the Brooklyn hospital.

"If this hospital closes, people will die. And they'll die in ambulances on the way to further away hospitals, they'll die in traffic, they'll die in overcrowded emergency rooms. We're fighting for our lives," said Jeff Strabone, a community activist.

"Brooklyn residents need quality health care, not luxury condominiums," said Estela Vazquez, an executive vice president of 1199 SEIU.

The hospital has been on the chopping block since February, as SUNY Downstate officials say it is not financially viable.

Joining the group to save the hospital was a Democratic mayoral candidate, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who touted a letter he wrote to the governor calling on him to take action before it is too late.

"Our message to Governor Cuomo today is: 'Don't let this happen on your watch, don't let us lose more hospitals. You can be the difference maker,'" de Blasio said.

NY1 reached out to the governor's office for a comment and by Sunday evening had not heard back.

Protestors also called for action at Brooklyn's Interfaith Hospital, which filed for bankruptcy.

De Blasio wants the governor's office to help facilitate a merger between Brooklyn Hospital Center and Interfaith, to save it.

As for LICH, it currently is not accepting ambulances, and last month many critical care patients were transferred out. Its future is dependent on court decisions, some of which are expected to be made in the next couple of weeks.

"Where are these people going to go when they need care for their children, where are they going to go? We are here, we want to remain here, we're here for health care. We're not here to get rich," said Joseph Colombo, a LICH employee.

The hospital employees and community activists planned to take their calls for help directly to Governor Andrew Cuomo at a rally outside his Manhattan office on Monday.

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