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Board Approves Closure Of Long Island College Hospital

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TWC News: Board Approves Closure Of Long Island College Hospital
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The SUNY Board of Trustees voted Friday to close Brooklyn's Long Island College Hospital, which comes amid a $40 million budget shortfall and after a report by the state comptroller that found it has been losing money for the past 17 years. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

Despite the pleas of advocates to keep Long Island College Hospital open, the trustees of the State University of New York decided it was time to shut it down.

SUNY's Downstate Medical Center took over operation of the hospital, known as LICH, two years ago in an attempt to save it. But they said they couldn't.

"The problem is, we are losing money at a rate that we cannot afford," said Dr. John Williams, president of SUNY Downstate. "That's the bottom line."

Williams told trustees that the 150-year-old hospital was adding to an already bleak financial situation at SUNY Downstate, which is set to run out of cash in March. SUNY officials said it's been losing between $4 million and $5 million a month.

"It will take $50 million off of the books that we're losing, and then, as we restructure, we would then incrementally take more and more money that we're losing off of the books," Williams said.

LICH employs 2,000 people. Opponents of the closure said the hospital is an integral part of the health care community in Brooklyn, and that SUNY didn't do enough to save it.

"When SUNY Downstate took over Long Island College Hospital, it was with a lot of talk about big plans to bring in programs that are revenue generating," said Julie Semente, a nurse at Long Island College Hospital. "And in the two years that they have been there, they've done absolutely nothing except change the sign on the name of the hospital."

Critics also accused SUNY of wanting to sell the LICH property, which has an estimated worth of hundreds of millions of dollars, to help bail itself out.

In Cobble Hill, residents and workers were sad to hear the news of the vote.

"This is the only hospital in the area. I live across the street from the hospital," said Cali Senkpiel, a Cobble Hill resident. "So many of the emergency, and so many people, are going to lose their job.

"I know a lot of people who are elderly, still living here in the area, and depend on this hospital," said one Long Island College Hospital employee.

Advocates to keep LICH open said that they are not done fighting yet. They will appeal to the New York State Department of Health, which will review the closure plan.

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