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Employees and community outraged as LICH begins transferring patients out of hospital

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Cobble Hill, BROOKLYN (PIX11) — Employees here at LICH are calling this an illegal evacuation.

Wednesday night, SUNY Downstate told EMTs they would no longer accept ambulances at Long Island College Hospital.  A day later, the staff here at LICH says they got a letter saying patients would be transferred out of the intensive care and critical care units and that no new patients will be admitted.

All of this is happening after a judge ordered Downstate to maintain staffing and services or be held in contempt.

Doctor Alice Garner is Chief of the Neonatal unit at Long Island College Hospital. Garner was furious Thursday afternoon when she says the administrators from SUNY Downstate told one of her patients they would have to find a new hospital.

“They told her she has to be transferred to Downstate, she told them no, and they said call your family and find out where you can be transferred.  And she’s probably not the only one; I am hearing throughout the hospital they are trying to transfer patients out of the hospital,” she said.

EMTs were loading patients into ambulances, taking them to other hospitals. Walk-in patients were told they would only receive screening and preliminary treatment before they too would be taken to another hospital by ambulance.

In a letter to patients and families, Downstate said the service changes were due to the resignation of critical staff.

“Do you see me standing here?” Dr. Garner said.

“I am not the only doctor that’s running around here mad. I’m not gone. We have good coverage up here. There are some doctors that have left yes but those of us that have not are taking up for them.”

The hospital also announced it would no longer accept ambulances, instead diverting them to other area hospitals.  It’s a move doctors and EMTs say could cost someone their life.

“When you divert, which is what we’re getting to, when you close down a hospital that treats people in the community and they have to go another five to seven minutes away, there’s no way you’re going to be able to save that person,” James Robinson said, who volunteers  with the Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance.

These changes come just one day after a judge ordered a contempt hearing against SUNY Downstate for violating a previous court order. That previous ruling required SUNY to maintain services and staffing for the community.

“They have engaged in one form of sabotage after another and I think that it is, frankly, criminal,” said Roy Sloane of the Cobble Hill Association.