Tempers and emotions were high Thursday at a public hearing on the proposed closure of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
The SUNY Board of Trustees got a cool reception from those gathered for a public hearing on the proposed closure of SUNY Downstate Medical Center's Long Island College Hospital.
Most of the anger was directed at SUNY Downstate President Dr. John Williams, who is recommending the closure.
"It's not something that we want to do, and we recognize that people are going to be very, very upset, very emotional," Williams said.
In between outbursts of anger from the audience, Williams explained why he feels the Cobble Hill hospital should be restructured. For one, it currently has a budget hole of $41 million and is set to run out of cash in March.
"There are days in the pediatric unit when there are no patients, there are two patients," Williams said. "Psych is always full, that's true, but that's one of the only services that's always full."
LICH advocates disagreed with Williams' occupancy numbers, and said that SUNY didn't do enough to try and save LICH since it took over two years ago.
"These people, who are making six-figure salaries, were not doing their jobs," said Herdley Hill, a psychiatric nurse at LICH. "We have the potential to make money."
Those at the hearing, including Brooklyn lawmakers, called on the board to postpone the vote, saying it's premature. They accused SUNY of being involved in an underhanded real estate deal.
"To sell it off to the highest bidder for real estate without any community backing appears to be, feels like and is, in fact, looting of the state treasury," said State Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district covers parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Williams denied claims that they are looking to sell the property to help SUNY Downstate solve its own money troubles, and attempts by SUNY officials to quell concerns seems to have fallen short.
"These are families that we reach out to, and we ensure their families grow well," said one person who spoke at the hearing. "We will not allow this system to be torn apart."
The SUNY Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the fate of Long Island College Hospital Friday morning.