BROOKLYN (PIX11) – Long Island College Hospital may have reached a compromise with SUNY Downstate over the embattled medical center, but now the countdown to find a buyer is on.
LICH supporters celebrated last week when they reached a historic deal to prevent the medical center from becoming high-priced condos. But now supporters and officials must race to find a new owner before May 22nd, when current owner SUNY Downstate will cease operations at the Cobble Hill facility. Public Advocate Letitia James says transferring ownership without a lapse in coverage is critical to the community.
“We were at an impasse and we were pushing for continuity of care so that there would not be any disruption in healthcare when we handed it off from SUNY to a new healthcare operator,” said James.
Which is why the new Request for Proposals includes a clause that would allow a future operator to begin medical care before the deal is completely closed. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, preference will be given to proposals that will operate a full service hospital, do so without a service interruption, and require community input for services. The agreement makes it clear that the community isn’t look for just an Urgent Care type of facility, but a full service hospital.
“In the previous RFP it talked about healthcare delivery, a healthcare delivery system,” said James. “In the new RFP the language is clear, paragraph 1, the priority being a full service hospital and that was something that we pushed for.”
Despite the looming deadline, community groups say healthcare providers who were scared away from submitting proposals in the previous process may now feel emboldened because they know they’ll be given preference.
“Hospital operators who were repelled by the previous process will be attracted to it now,” said Jeff Strabone of the Cobble Hill Association. The previous respondents now have extra incentive to up the medical services and add a hospital if they want to be competitive.”
Attorney Jim Walden, who represents the six community groups fighting to keep the hospital open, told us he doesn’t think LICH will have any trouble finding a new operator by the May 22nd deadline, especially with support from the community.
“We think the timeline provides a sufficient window for robust proposals,” Walden said in a statement. “With the community galvanized to make a new hospital succeed — from Red Hook to DUMBO — we hope hospitals across the City will compete to make a new home in Brooklyn.”