Judge Gives LICH Another Reprieve

A state judge has overturned the decision to close Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

Justice Johnny Baynes says the Board of Trustees of SUNY -- which acquired the hospital in 2011 as part of the Downstate system -- violated open meeting laws.

In his 10-page ruling, Baynes wrote that a crucial committee meeting had taken place behind closed doors to shield the purpose of the meetings from the general public.

Baynes wrote that SUNY could not proceed with the closure until it complies with "the transparency required by the Open Meetings Law." A spokesman for SUNY says the Board of Trustees will meet again next week to reconsider Downstate's recommendation that LICH be closed.

"The ruling hinges on a procedural technicality and does not question SUNY or Downstate's legal ability to seek closure for LICH," David Doyle of SUNY wrote in an email. "Since time is of the essence, next week the Board will re-consider the recommendation to submit a closure plan to the Department of Health."

SUNY says the entire Downstate system is losing $11 million a month, including $4 million from LICH's losses alone, and needs to be restructured.

LICH staff praised Baynes' decision and vowed to keep fighting.

“This ruling validates what nurses have been saying all along: SUNY acted unlawfully and irresponsibly when they voted to close our community hospital,” said Jill Furillo, Executive Director of the New York State Nurses Association, in a prepared statement. “We’re going to keep working together to build a powerful coalition to protect Brooklyn patients and keep LICH open for care.”