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LI College Hospital needs a credible plan
The Brooklyn Health Partners plan to rouse Long Island College Hospital from a deep coma is unraveling -- and now even Mayor Bill de Blasio wants the state to move on to the next bidder.
That's a welcome change. When SUNY announced two months ago that it would hold a bidding competition for LICH -- weighted toward the interests of activists and unions who wanted to keep a full-service hospital open on the site -- the mayor held a City Hall pep rally.
The tide was turning, he said then, against the trend of destructive and unnecessary hospital closings in the city.
Now we're back to Earth.
"Our mission," de Blasio said Thursday, "is to save and protect continuous, high-level health care." There's a world of difference between a demand for a full-service hospital and a call for continuous, high-level health care.
Astonishingly, BHP has offered to replace LICH with a new full-service hospital containing up to 400 beds. It also wants to build 1,000 apartment units on the site.
But here's the problem. Hospitals are not disappearing from the city's neighborhoods primarily because of greed and high real estate values, as de Blasio once implied.
They're vanishing because they're dinosaurs.
Routine health care delivery is mostly provided on an outpatient basis now. Costly hospital stays are reserved for those who require highly specialized care.
It was never clear how BHP -- without a strong track record in health care or even certification to run a hospital -- could stay solvent with a traditional facility.
SUNY Downstate Medical Center is bleeding about $13 million a month in losses because of LICH.
And it didn't help BHP's case when word leaked out that it was planning to build twin 50-story apartment towers on part of LICH's site in low-rise brownstone Cobble Hill.
SUNY will decide on Monday whether it thinks BHP can follow through. BHP insists it can. But de Blasio is right to ask SUNY to move down the list of bidders. What Cobble Hill needs is a smartly downsized LICH.
We're glad he came to his senses.