Murray Adams, a prominent personality in Cobble Hill and former president of the Cobble Hill Association, has presented a plan to save LICH at a public hearing last night. Here is his submission:
TESTIMONY OF C. MURRAY ADAMS, ON BEHALF OF
THE COBBLE HILL ASSOCIATION
November 10, 2008
My name is Murray Adams, and I speak on behalf of the Cobble Hill Association, a civic association which represents the interests of the residents of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, where The Long Island College Hospital has been providing medical care for 150 years. The people of our community believe that the real reason behind Continuum Health Partners’ announced plans to close LICH’s Obstetrics and in-patient Pediatrics services, its Dentistry program and its school based clinics program is to close LICH entirely so they can sell off LICH’s valuable real estate to benefit Continuum’s Manhattan hospitals. This must not be allowed to happen!
Late in August, 2008, the Medical Staff of LICH filed a plan with the New York State Department of Health to revitalize LICH without closing any of these services and by returning LICH’s management to an independent group of Brooklyn-based trustees. That plan is a good plan, but it must be supplemented because it does not provide working capital which LICH must have in order to finance the transition and the rebuilding of the Hospital. Although the Medical Staff leadership has retained an investment banking firm to help obtain financing, given the present collapse of the credit markets, we do not think it likely that they will obtain loans for the necessary working capital in the very short time remaining to save LICH. To make the Medical Staff plan feasible, in our opinion, it needs to be supplemented in three respects:
First, the Medical School at SUNY Downstate and the Department of Health must agree that the management of LICH must be moved to Downstate and LICH’s Obstetric beds must be moved under Downstate’s operating certificate. This would mean New York State would bear the losses and the malpractice premiums which now burden LICH. Continuum wants to close Obstetrics, because, according to Continuum’s figures, this would save LICH more than $13 million per year. It would cost the State about half that much because the State does not have to pay malpractice premiums. Obviously, if Downstate continues to operate the Obstetrics beds at LICH where they are, there will be no need to close inpatient Pediatrics or the school based clinics program or the Dentistry program.
Second, the Medical School at Downstate and the Department of Health must agree to Downstate’s entering into leases of several LICH buildings so that Downstate can move much of its medical school as well as its clinical practices over to LICH. These buildings are LICH’s Polhemus building, where until 1953 Downstate had its medical school; LICH’s Clinic Building; and much of LICH’s 97 Amity Street building. This would answer Downstate’s need to expand its medical school facilities. An annual lease rental of $15 million will offset $15 million of LICH’s annual debt service, and so take care of the second part of what Continuum’s “plan” says needs to be done to put LICH on a stable financial basis.
Third, we need our elected officials’ help in getting the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to defer for a reasonable period LICH’s debt service payments of about $2.5 million per month in order to provide LICH with working capital essential to LICH’s effort to restore itself. Also, LICH needs time to reconstitute and expand its primary care clinics, as the Medical Staff plan contemplates, and thereby rebuild LICH’s volume and its cash flow, which will probably take up to two years.
For the better health of all Brooklyn residents, Long Island College Hospital must be saved and restored as a premier Brooklyn health care institution. Brooklyn’s public health care standing is below New York City standards in almost every category, such as infant mortality per 1000 births, prevalence of asthma in children, incidence of heart disease, strokes, etc. The State would save money by setting up a Borough wide system of primary care clinics which would treat asthma, high blood pressure, breast cancer, high cholesterol conditions, nutrition problems, substance abuse and other common medical conditions that early intervention can treat much less expensively than if the patient arrives months or years later in a hospital emergency room and requires inpatient treatment because the untreated condition has become a major threat. We believe that what Brooklyn needs, as the Medical Staff Plan contemplates, is the establishment of a chain of Primary Care Clinics in the medically underserved areas of Brooklyn, such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Mill Basin and East New York, and the linking up of existing clinics in those and other underserved areas, such as the BHS Clinic in East New York and the Red Hook Health Center in Red Hook, with the combined tertiary care capabilities of Downstate/University Hospital and LICH. We believe federal funds can be obtained to help establish this network of clinics.
We understand that Continuum and Downstate are in negotiations which we hope will result in LICH’s management being returned to Brooklyn under Downstate’s management and supervised by a new Brooklyn-based Board of Regents. We urge the Borough President and all our local elected officials to take every step in their power to make this come about and save our hospital for the entire Brooklyn community.