The statements read by Long Island College Hospital's doctors yesterday at a press conference to publicize the fact that their parent company, Continuum Health Partners, was bleeding the hospital dry, was chilling. The doctors accuse Continuum of selling its valuable real estate and funneling the profits to their Manhattan hospitals. On a flier distributed by the doctors, they state that:
-"Thanks to gross financial mismanagement and a steady bleeding of LICH's resources, Continuum Health Partners which controls LICH, has put our neighborhood hospital on the brink of bankruptcy, wasting our healthcare dollars by sending them to hospitals in Manhattan."
-" Continuum has siphoned off tens of millions in Brooklyn healthcare dollars and "borrowed" even more from LICH's own endowment, without any record of how they spent any of it, and sold off $50 million in clinics and other properties to support Manhattan hospitals.
-"Now, they are hungry for the big money they can take by declaring LICH bankrupt, and selling us out by selling off its campus. They're aready working to close 200 beds."
How does all of this affect Carroll Gardens? Well, there is the obvious fact that we may be loosing our nearest hospital at a time when developers and our local politicians are all too eager to add to the population of our neighborhood. Once the Gowanus area and the Place Site are fully developed, once the 340 Court Street and 360 Smith/131 Second Place Street Condos are completed, there will be an even greater need for a premier hospital in this area. Expecting patients to travel across to Manhattan or thinking that Methodist Hospital in Park Slope can absorb all patients is just shortsighted.
However, there is another reason why Carroll Gardens is on the losing end of Continuum's big sell-off: the loss of the Donald and Mildred Othmer building at 340 Court Street, which was once the Brooklyn Longshoreman's Medical Center.The estate of Donald F. Othmer left LICH a trust fund of more than $100 million, which in part helped to renovate the former Brooklyn Longshoremen’s Medical Center, which later housed LICH’s School of Nursing. Just recently Continuum sold the building to the Clarett Group for a reported 24 million dollars. (A second building on Sackett was sold for $3.1 million.) What Continuum has done with the profits from this as well as other sales is not clear, but if LICH's doctors are correct, it ended up in Manhattan. Instead of a medical facility, Carroll Gardens got stuck with Clarett's condo development.
In the meantime, Brooklyn Congress members Nydia Velasquez, Ed Towns and Yvette Clarke sent a letter to Governor Paterson and to State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office to call for immediate action to resolve the financial and management issues involving Continuum.
But pardon me for asking, why weren't our Councilman Bill De Blasio or Assemblywoman Joan Millman at the press conference? I was there and did not see them, nor their representatives. Surely, this will affect their constituents, no?
Both politicians may have failed to understand the consequences of losing the 340 Court Street building to the Clarett Group. Carroll Gardens lost a medical facility which could have served this (growing) community in the future. The only winners in all of this?
The Clarett Group and Continuum.
From The New York Times
From The Brooklyn Eagle: