Governor David A. Paterson today announced that State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center has been awarded a $40 million State grant to acquire and operate Long Island College Hospital (LICH), which will become a second campus of University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB). The grant will enable SUNY Downstate to expand UHB's capacity to meet the expected growth in demand for inpatient services and specialized care.
"One of our main health care goals is to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to high quality care in their communities," Governor Paterson said. "The HEAL grant is an important investment in the future of health care in Brooklyn and will allow SUNY Downstate to create another campus to better serve local residents and continue to train the next generation of physicians."
The funding is being provided by the New York State Department of Health and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) through Phase 19 of the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers (HEAL NY), which support efforts that improve the efficiency and affordability of New York's health care system. The $40 million HEAL NY grant and a $22 million HEAL NY grant awarded in October 2009 will also assist SUNY Downstate in retiring LICH debt and in the payment of costs associated with the integration of clinical and financial operations between SUNY Downstate and Continuum Health Partners, which managed LICH.
Through the existing academic partnership, many physicians working at LICH already hold academic appointments at Downstate. The agreement will ensure that Downstate retains teaching slots for its students and residents. It will also bring Downstate's bed count in line with those of other academic medical centers. LICH and Downstate's teaching hospital, UHB, will operate as a single hospital with two campuses. It is expected that the merger of the two institutions will create long-term sustainability and significant financial improvement for both facilities.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher, PhD, said: "This agreement enhances the academic mission of SUNY Downstate and highlights the contributions that the SUNY System makes to the people of New York State. Nowhere is the 'Power of SUNY' more evident than right here in Brooklyn, where Downstate and its partners are providing education, clinical care, research breakthroughs, and employment to the people of the region."
John C. LaRosa, M.D., President of SUNY Downstate, said: "I want to emphasize that the agreement with Continuum represents a significant step forward, but there are many more review and approval steps that must be completed before an agreement can be finalized. This agreement will also strengthen Downstate's education and training mission and preserve Downstate's standing as the hub of medical education in Brooklyn. Equally important, critically needed healthcare services in Brooklyn will be safeguarded. I would like to thank Stanley Brezenoff, for his commitment to ensuring that LICH would not close its doors, Governor Paterson and the New York State Department of Health."
Stanley Brezenoff, President and Chief Executive Officer of Continuum, said: "This agreement is a win-win for all of the organizations involved. Most importantly, being a part of SUNY Downstate will allow LICH to take advantage of greater continuity and coordination of clinical services directly in Brooklyn, which, I am confident, will greatly improve LICH's financial standing. I am grateful to all who have helped bring this to fruition, particularly Governor Paterson and the NYS Department of Health."
The merger brings together two institutions with a long, shared history. Downstate, Brooklyn's only academic medical center, is comprised of five colleges, University Hospital of Brooklyn, a major bioscience research center, and biotechnology facilities. But its roots go back to LICH. Downstate's largest academic unit, its College of Medicine, was founded as the Collegiate Division of the Long Island College Hospital 150 years ago. In 1950, the College joined the newly formed State University of New York system as SUNY Downstate Medical Center.
Long Island College Hospital has experienced financial difficulties during the past several years, and the State has been actively involved in discussions to maintain it as an active health care facility in the community. The acquisition will help to stabilize the financial condition of LICH and enable physicians currently practicing at the hospital to become part of the staff of a large academic medical center.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said: "For the best healthcare this city has to offer, why go anywhere other than Brooklyn? I want to commend our Governor, Continuum, Downstate and LICH on an agreement that prioritizes real investment in healthcare and medical education in Brooklyn. With a catchment area extending far into Brooklyn, this hospital serves neighborhoods full of young families and seniors who need a medical center they can rely on. By keeping LICH open, we ensure that essential services like emergency room, ambulance, obstetrics, pediatric, cardiac and stroke care are well maintained, and we save jobs not only at LICH but in the surrounding restaurants and retail establishments that depend on it. I commend all parties for stepping up to keep a great local healthcare icon in great shape and ensuring that Brooklynites continue to receive these much-needed services."
The acquisition of LICH will enable UHB to expand its capacity to treat patients without undertaking costly and disruptive renovations at its main campus on Clarkson Avenue in Brooklyn. The addition of the new campus will also strengthen UHB's programs and "Centers of Excellence" in cancer treatment, cardiac care and organ transplantation, and allow the hospital to undertake additional clinical research. Formal approval by the State Health Department is pending.