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Closing Of Long Island College Hospital Stalled Once Again In Court

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The courts have spared Long Island College Hospital from closing for the second time this year, after a state supreme court judge in Brooklyn issued a temporary restraining order Monday barring the state Department Of Health from acting on SUNY Downstate's request to close.

The suit was filed by unions representing hospital workers and a group representing physicians.

The judge ruled in their favor, saying SUNY Downstate violated a section of state education law, because its council failed to do a meaningful review of the closure plan before the State University of New York's Board of Trustees voted on it.

In the decision, the judge said the closure plan was an "abuse of discretion," a "violation of lawful procedure" and "unconstitutionally vague."

The SUNY board has now voted twice to close the hospital, first in February and then again on March 19.

After the initial vote, a judge ruled the SUNY board violated the state's open meeting law, and ordered the first restraining order barring the hospital's closure.

SUNY Downstate officials say LICH is losing about $1 million a week, and its continued operation threatens the all of Downstate.

They added in a Monday statement, "SUNY Downstate is in a financial crisis and it is a race against the clock to save medical education, thousands of jobs, and high quality patient care in Brooklyn.... [I]ts continued operation threatens all of Downstate. It simply does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses."

In another blow to SUNY Downstate, lawmakers in Albany failed to approve a $150 million bailout during budget talks last month.

SUNY Downstate will not receive any help until it submits a sustainability plan to the state for approval.

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