LICH no ambulances, shortage of medical specialists

Stacey Sager has the story
November 7, 2013 3:32:35 PM PST
There's a pledge to try to start admitting patients in ambulances again Friday at the financially ailing Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

The hospital on financial life support and slated for closing, stopped accepting ambulances because of a shortage of medical specialists.

"This is not something we're not used to, SUNY sabotaging, in contempt of court," said Linda O'Neil, LICH ICU nurse.

Linda O'Neil and other staff members at Long Island College Hospital spent much of the day sweating out the latest round in a bitter, bitter battle.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center wants to shutdown LICH for financial reasons.

One of LICH's staunchest defenders fighting it every step of the way is Bill de Blasio.

He was arrested as he protested the closure back in July.

A state Supreme Court judge also ordered SUNY Downstate to keep the facility open.

But late Wednesday, staffers at LICH were told the hospital wasn't to accept any new patients and so ambulances were diverted.

The only ones with lights and sirens on Thursday were those taking patients out of LICH.

"This is an assault on the communities that are served by LICH and we feel like we're dealing with a bunch of thugs," said Julie Semente, an LICH ICU nurse.

Then, just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday, SUNY Downstate issued a statement saying:

"At the direction of the chancellor, SUNY is mustering resources, including using doctors from University Hospital of Brooklyn and from other SUNY institutions across the state, with the goal of allowing for the resumption of basic life support ambulances, tomorrow."

It went on to say: "The day to day situation at LICH remains fluid."

And as for the serious medical cases, "those patients are urged to seek care at other facilities."

Meanwhile, as for those whose lives were saved at LICH, they too see it as sabotage.

"I think they want staff to leave and can say, 'see, there's no staff,'" said Sue Raboy, of Patients for LICH.

This community's fight is far from over.

"It's time for the governor to step up and call off his dogs," Semente said.