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Protest Erupts After LICH Staff Claims Hospital Closure Is Imminent

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TWC News: Protest Erupts After LICH Staff Claims Hospital Closure Is Imminent
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A group of protesters forced their way into Long Island College Hospital Thursday, upset that the Brooklyn facility may be headed for closure.

Hospital staff say they were given instructions by SUNY Downstate officials to transfer all patients out of the Cobble Hill campus by tomorrow so the facility could close by the end of the weekend.

News of the alleged directive spread quickly, prompting community members, doctors, nurses and elected officials to gather outside the hospital.

The group then marched around the building before trying to storm a side entrance.

Security officials were able to prevent a majority of protesters from entering the facility, but those who made it through demanded to speak with SUNY officials.

SUNY Downstate, which operates the hospital, has been trying to close the financially strapped institution for months.

A judge recently issued a temporary restraining order to keep it open, but SUNY says it was lifted yesterday after it submitted a hospital closure plan to the state Department Of Health.

"These SUNY administrators are acting like thieves in the night, closing down the hospital without showing what they're doing. But by tomorrow at this time there could be no patients left. By Sunday this facility could be shuttered," said Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio.

"This is a crisis of incredible proportions in Brooklyn where you have patients who are being diverted from the hospital against the order of a judge who says that the hospital must receive patients, especially in the emergency rooms," said Jill Surillo of the New York State Nursing Association.

In a statement, a SUNY Downstate spokesman said they have no immediate plans to close the hospital, adding they will "continue to address issues at LICH in an orderly and responsible manner that ensures patient safety and welfare."

A spokesperson for Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement that read, "The unfortunate reality is that despite significant support from state taxpayers, including a $62 million state bailout and a $75 million state loan, LICH has been unable to stop hemorrhaging money, now losing $15 million a month and incurring mass departures of doctors and medical staff. SUNY has put forward a real and financially responsible solution to the ongoing fiscal crisis at LICH by issuing an RFP to establish new sustainable health care services to adequately meet the needs of the community."

Currently, there are only 18 patients left in Long Island College Hospital, according to SUNY Downstate officials. A request for proposal has also been put out to find other health care providers to service the facility.

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