Is there a doctor in the house? Long Island College Hospital — an ailing ward of SUNY Downstate Medical Center — is hemorrhaging $13 million a month.
The state university system wants to shutter the place, but a Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn says no.
It’s time to make a deal.
Two plausible rescue plans are on the table. Neither plan calls for a full-scale resuscitation that would return LICH to its glory days, filled with beds, patients and jobs.
That blunt fact could anger some Cobble Hill activists who don’t want the mission of LICH to change. But on the plus side, it could clear the way for housing on the site, as well as a smaller — financially healthy — medical facility.
Plan No. 1: Brooklyn Hospital Center would work with a developer to build 1,000 units of housing — 350 of them “affordable” — on the LICH site, while also creating a new outpatient facility and 24-hour emergency center.
Plan No. 2: NYU Langone Medical Center and Fortis Property Group would build condos on the LICH site along with an outpatient facility and emergency care.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo must make something happen. De Blasio has been a steadfast supporter of LICH activists. Cuomo, meanwhile, urgently needs to stop LICH’s bleeding. A deal should be doable.
True, de Blasio participated in a demonstration just last summer to keep LICH open. But he knows that changing health-care economics demand fewer large hospitals and more neighborhood outpatient care.
His job now is to make sure Cobble Hill gets the most health care possible out of a LICH development deal.
For their part, Cuomo and the SUNY board need to stop a financial drain. LICH’s high value as a housing site could be the right prescription for their dilemma.
Hard-liners among the activists believe deals like this are just an easy way for politicians to turn their backs on the sick and cozy up to developers. Wrong. The fate of St. Vincent’s hospital in the Village is a cautionary tale. When protests there delayed a similar real-estate rescue deal, the hospital closed. That shouldn’t happen again.