SUNY Board Votes to Close LICH in Brooklyn

SUNY Board Votes to Close LICH in Brooklyn

By Paul Bubny @ GlobeSt.com

NEW YORK CITY-The money-losing Long Island College Hospital, part of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, appears fated to close its doors. Following weeks of community rallies to keep LICH open, the State University of New York’s board of trustees voted Friday to support SUNY Downstate president John Williams in his recommendation to cease operations at the five-building, 200,000-square-foot LICH campus.

That could potentially lead to one of the largest redevelopment opportunities the northern part of the borough has seen. Crain’s New York Business quoted City Council Member Brad Lander, who represents the Cobble Hill neighborhood in which LICH is located, as saying he’s heard estimates of the complex’s worth that top $500 million, although Lander and other lawmakers oppose a sale. The 155-year old teaching hospital’s current site is zoned as of right for residential.

Don’t look for the campus to hit the market in the next few weeks, though. A SUNY spokesman says that the next step is for Williams to prepare a closure plan and submit it to the state Department of Health for approval, a process that in itself may require several days. The Department of Health may then take “weeks or months” to sign off on the plan, which in turn must be implemented, the spokesman says.

“Our goal is to avoid insolvency for Downstate Medical Center and preserve the 8,000 jobs that depend on its continued operation,” SUNY board chairman H. Carl McCall says in a statement. “This difficult decision is the first part of a series of steps that will need to be taken to ensure high quality medical education and healthcare services will continue to be provided for the people of Brooklyn. President Williams and his staff are developing a comprehensive plan that will allow Downstate to maintain its vital services, and the board supports their efforts.”

In January, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued an audit saying that LICH’s financial woes were contributing to a risk of insolvency for SUNY Downstate, which absorbed LICH in 2011. LICH has shown operating losses each year going back to 1994, according to the comptroller’s report.

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