Judge orders SUNY Downstate to restore services to LICH

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(PIX11) – It’s back to life for Long Island College Hospital. Late Friday, a judge ruled SUNY Downstate must restore services to the Brooklyn Medical Center.

“Healthcare will not be taken away from people in this city. Healthcare will not be denied to people who need it.  And it’s time to recognize that the city and state have to take responsibility for the healthcare needs of people and stop looking the other way.”

Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has been fighting to keep Long Island College Hospital open for months. And just hours before LICH was set to close it’s doors back on July 19th, de Blasio won a temporary restraining order to stop the shutdown.

Saturday, de Blasio celebrated with nurses and patients after a judge ruled that SUNY Downstate, which operates LICH, must restore services until further notice.

“You cannot eliminate hospitals where that is where people get their healthcare right now,” said Jill Furillo of the New York State Nurses Association.

Since Downstate stopped accepting patients at LICH, there have been reports of overflows at other area hospitals and long waits in emergency rooms.

The judge’s order requires full restoration of staffing and services that were available as of July 19th at LICH, resuming in-patient surgeries, removing armed guards and appointing an independent monitor to make sure the administration cooperates.

Former LICH patients were relieved by the ruling and say keeping LICH open could be the difference between life and death.

“I am very happy about the judge’s decision to keep the hospital open.  We need a hospital in my community,” said Deborah Bingham
of Brooklyn Heights.

But de Balsio says there was never a need for the administration here at SUNY Downstate to padlock the hospital.  He says the fact that they cut services last month shows that they were willing to put profits before patients.

“It would be a lovely site for luxury condos and SUNY would profit and the real estate developers would profit. But the people of our community don’t need more luxury condos, we need healthcare,” de Blasio said.

For it’s part, SUNY Downstate claims LICH is losing $15 million a month and it can’t afford to keep it open.

It’s not clear how long the judges ruling will keep LICH up and running, but everyone fighting for the hospital hopes it will be long enough to work out a deal with another healthcare provider.

Seven medical organizations have expressed interest in taking over operations at LICH, and this ruling could provide the time needed to get one of them in place so LICH can make a full recovery.

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