The future of Brooklyn's Long Island College Hospital remains unknown as state officials gave the order late Thursday to begin transferring critical care patients to other hospitals. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.
It was hard to know Friday how many critically ill patients were still being cared for at Long Island College Hospital, after orders came down to move them out.
Those orders came from SUNY Downstate Medical Center, which oversees operations at the hospital, known as LICH.
LICH started transferring intensive and coronary care patients to other hospitals on Thursday, after SUNY Downstate said too few doctors are still working at LICH to guarantee adequate care.
At least one doctor said that's just not true.
"We are fully staffed with doctors and nurses and there's no reason to risk even an ambulance ride, it is risky for fragile newborns," said Dr. Alice Garner, who works in the hospital's neonatal unit.
SUNY Downstate has been trying to close LICH, saying it's losing millions of dollars a year.
A judge has ordered the hospital to remain open, but SUNY says two dozen doctors and other senior staffers have quit, all because of LICH's questionable future.
The patient transfers began not long after LICH stopped accepting emergency patients, telling ambulances to divert to other hospitals.
EMT Mike Smith says he had to drive a possible heart attack victim to another ER about 15 minutes away.
"I'm sitting there with this patient in this crowded ER knowing that there was a fully staffed ER at Long Island College Hospital," said Smith. "At that hospital they were so busy and so crowded they didn't have someone to see him right away.
"I seen ambulances coming off the highway with their sirens and everything on and going right past the hospital. And I said a prayer for the person in the back, because you don't know if they made it," said Red Hook resident Harold Pritchard.
For now, lawyers for both sides are prepping for a July 15 court date when a state supreme court judge will examine whether hospital officials complied with his temporary restraining order months ago to stop all action to close LICH.
People suing to keep LICH open say officials have violated that injunction.