Conflict Flares Again At Long Island College Hospital

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SUNY spokesman David Doyle said Long Island College Hospital turned away ambulances Wednesday night because of "a shortage of medical specialists." But he said the hospital expects to resume accepting ambulances and admitting new patients tomorrow.

Attorneys for six South Brooklyn civic groups responded to Wednesday night's shut-down by going to court Thursday afternoon and suing SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, which operates the hospital, for contempt of court.

A staffer with an elected official who supports the group said the plaintiffs are asking the court to impose financial penalties on SUNY for every day it has not complied with an order to accept ambulances and admit patients.

Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association, said in a statement that she was "pleased" to see the hospital reversing course once again and deciding to restore ambulance services. "This is the second time in a week that SUNY trustees acted in a way that undercut LICH's ability to stay open and serve the area's communities," she added. "That needs to stop once and for all."

It is not the first time the two sides have clashed. LICH turned away patients for similar reasons this summer, but was ordered by a judge to reverse the policy after nurses and doctors sued.

SUNY took over LICH two years ago and has been trying to close it since February. The plan has prompted community protests that have included acts of civil disobedience. One of those arrested was public advocate Bill de Blasio, now the city's mayor-elect. In October, Justice Johnny Lee Baynes ruled that SUNY Downstate cannot act on the closure plan it submitted to state regulators. SUNY is appealing the order. 

Long Island College Hospital serves South Brooklyn and has 506 beds.