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LICH still under NY State's Predatory Land Grab

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Mi Mi Cho
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(Article changed on October 14, 2013 at 23:53)

The remaining Long Island College Hospital property coveted by the SUNY Downstate Hospital
The remaining Long Island College Hospital property coveted by the SUNY Downstate Hospital
(Image by Mi Mi Cho)
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The remaining Long Island College Hospital property coveted by the SUNY Downstate Hospital by Mi Mi Cho

To save the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn Heights,  Mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio helped win a lawsuit against the State University of NY Downstate Hospital in August 2013. But the SUNY Downstate administrators are still trying to dismantle LICH.  

     LICH still under NY State's Predatory Land Grab

                                                                  By Mi Mi Cho

Two years ago doctors at the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Brooklyn Heights successfully fought against and broke away from the alliance with the Continuum Health Partners (CHP) in Manhattan.  But a decade-long destructive partnership with CHP had already dissipated a great deal of LICH's original assets, and humbled a once prominent Brooklyn medical institution.

In 2011, the Concerned Physicians of LICH organization, the main player that dislodged the hold on LICH by CHP, was apparently excluded from the decision-making process during the LICH merger with the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Hospital, resulting in LICH being once again lost in an even more opaque and out of reach state predatory system. And the battle to save this important community asset now continues.

Breathtaking view of the sunset, Manhattan, and the river near LICH taken from the sky by Mi Mi Cho

Predation, according to the economist James K. Galbraith (The Predator State,2008) is defined as the systematic undermining of public protections for the benefit of private clients.  The predatory state's policies are not governed by the official doctrine, but are used as tools to legitimize and promote official myths to further entrench the predatory state.

The primary myth to undermine LICH alleges that the hospital has been hemorrhaging money, that it cannot sustain itself any longer, and that unless it is closed down immediately it will harm the survival of the SUNY Downstate Hospital itself.  When asked why they still took over LICH in 2011 if the deficits were common knowledge, the state officials admitted on paper that LICH's assets would more than cover its total liabilities. Meanwhile the state continues to hide the fact that SUNY Downstate has been losing as much money in one month as LICH was losing in one year.

Even more outrageous is the fact that a three million dollar monthly loss allegedly incurred by LICH has been primarily attributed to paying the CHP for unnecessary and mismanaged computer and billing services, which should have been transferred to the Downstate operation when it took control of LICH.  This means that, in fact, LICH was in much better shape than most other institutions at the end of 2012, when the SUNY Downstate administration began dismissing LICH's administrators, and when it ruthlessly began the process of closing down the LICH operations without ever consulting outside experts or the surrounding communities to be impacted by such a drastic action.

When the state executive office and elected legislators failed to halt the deterioration of LICH at the eleventh hour in the spring, the Save the LICH coalition, consisting of doctors, the New York State Nurses Association, SEIU Local 1199, and a civic group led by Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, finally sought protection from the courts and the judiciary system to stop the dismemberment of this vital medical institution.

During the past six months Brooklyn has witnessed packed courtrooms, where representatives of unencumbered power and wealth displayed their sloppy, inappropriate and unrestrained state's power for all to see.  In 2011, Justice Carolyn E. Demarest granted the SUNY Downstate's takeover of the LICH after being convinced that the hospital would continue to operate, consistent with the 150-year-old mission of LICH, and the requirements of the Othmer's trust endowment. But in her 20 August, 2013 stunning ruling, Justice Demarest vacated her original decision to permit the takeover of LICH by SUNY Downstate in 2011. She reasoned that in 2011 the wave of enthusiasm for a solution that would preserve LICH may have blinded many to SUNY's more sinister purpose to dismantle the LICH hospital and seize its assets.

Outrageously, the agents of the power establishment in New York began warning Justice Demarest and Justice Baynes to just maintain their judicial roles and to keep away from the roles of legislators.  The recent decisions by these two justices are consistent with the position of Ronald Dworkin, a brilliant legal scholar who wrote in Justice in Robes, (2006), that when necessary, judges must undertake to ascend high enough in their collective deliberations and claim a rule of law that is not just an instrument for economic achievement and social peace but to incorporate the abstract moral principles in the US Constitution of placing limits on the government's power.

As Galbraith cautions in The Predator State, official myths corral the opposition, shrink the sphere of admissible debate, and set reasoned discourse beyond the pale of what can be said, at least in public, by reputable people.  What then remains is rule by predators, and in particular, the transfer of power of supervision and regulation to the organized business and banking lobbies.

Since the spring of 2013, and after the court ruled on the unconstitutionality and unlawfulness of SUNY's attempt to close LICH, all of LICH's employees have been regularly receiving harassing SUNY letters warning them of impending layoffs, as almost all of LICH's hospital functions are being decimated. And the attorney for the SUNY Downstate hospital is still trying to overturn the August ruling that ended SUNY's possession of LICH.

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Mi Mi Cho is an employee of the Long Island College Hospital and a member of the Local 1199 SEIU.

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LICH still under NY State's Predatory Land Grab

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