A judge has overturned a hospital closure planned by the State University of New York aimed at restoring financial health to the SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
On Thursday State Supreme Court judge Johnny Baynes ruled that the center cannot go forward with closing the Long Island College Hospital, one of three hospitals that the center operates in Brooklyn.
In January New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said that the center, which was losing $8-$10 million a month, faced insolvency as soon as May. In response, SUNY sought to close the hospital, anticipating it would save itself $4 million a month.
On Feb. 8 the SUNY board of trustees voted at a public meeting to close LICH.
The board was vague in its description of the agenda item in the public agenda for the meeting, the judge stated. This and other board acts "seems intentionally designed to shield the purpose of the meetings from the general public and obstruct the transparency required by the Open Meeting Law," Baynes wrote.
"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.
"We're going to keep working together to build a powerful coalition to protect Brooklyn patients and keep LICH open for care," she said.
"We strongly disagree with the court's interpretation of the events surrounding the Board of Trustees vote," said David Belsky, director of university relations at SUNY. "The ruling hinges on a procedural technicality and does not question SUNY or Downstate's legal ability to seek closure for LICH. 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 Downstate is in a financial crisis…. Inaction and the status quo are simply not an option if we have any chance of succeeding."