Long Island College Hospital

Former Governor David A. Paterson announced on October 14, 2010 an agreement for Long Island College Hospital (LICH) to become part of SUNY Downstate.  Under the agreement, LICH and SUNY Downstate's teaching hospital, University Hospital of Brooklyn, will operate as a single hospital with two campuses. In his statement, the governor also announced a $40 million HEAL (Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law) grant in support of the the planned merger.  The affiliation was conceived to prevent the full or partial closure of the Cobble Hill hospital, which has been burdened by high capital debt.

Dominick Stanzione, interim president of LICH, informed Community Board 2 in December 2009 that a merger would be the first in New York between a non-profit hospital and a state hospital. More than eight state and federal agencies must approve the merger.  The final regulatory approvals are now expected to be made by the end of March 2011. Some clinical hospital departments are already fully merged and SUNY Downstate is sponsoring many teaching programs at LICH.  The community board is grateful to Mr. Stanzione for his presentation and for those by the chiefs of the emergency and pediatric departments.

Although LICH is just south of Community District 2, it serves residents of the community district and its closure would have a far-reaching negative impact.  Continuum Health Partners, of which LICH is a member, announced in August 2008 that it intended to sell buildings, reduce beds and close the obstetrics department at the 506-bed hospital.  The parent group later announced it will also close the pediatrics in-patient unit, the general dentistry service and four grade-school health programs in response to financial losses.  Over 100 employees were laid off, with plans for more.

Continuum filed a reorganization plan with the state Department of Health (DOH) seeking to make these service reductions permanent.  Medical staff, community residents and elected officials joined together to advocate for the continuation of services.  In November 2008, DOH responded that these closures are not acceptable because other nearby hospitals would be unable to accommodate the resulting increase of patients.  However, the state agency acknowledged the hospital’s financial difficulties and made a $3 million loan from its health care restructuring pool.  LICH was awarded a $22 million HEAL grant in October 2009 to assist with restructuring debt.

LICH has taken action since then to stabilize its finances, including the long-term solution represented by the merger plan. The hospital also renegotiated its contracts with some managed care companies. Elected officials allocated funds to keep the school clinics open. Most recently, it was announced in August 2010 that the dentistry department would become part of the Lutheran Family Health Centers network, although the clinic would remain located at the hospital.