The People’s Champion and The Fight to Save Brooklyn’s LICH

LICH - Archpaper.com

LICH – Archpaper.com

Dear Readers:

Last month, I introduced to some (and re-introduced to others) New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James. At that time I provided a broad overview of the important items on her agenda: good work for fair pay, access to healthcare, a common sense public education policy, universal school lunch and a constituent services plan.

Brooklyneagle.com

Brooklyneagle.com

Today I will focus on Public Advocate James’ determination to preserve one of Brooklyn’s venerable health care institutions – Long Island College Hospital (LICH). This has been a public fight and some New Yorkers have been critical of her stance around this issue. The plea was to keep the hospital running as a full service medical center – a noble aspiration but one without any real takers.

LICH was a financially troubled institution for many years.  In 2011 when SUNY raised its hand, and agreed to partner with the medical center, there was a collective sigh of relief and another health care crisis seemed to be adverted.

IMG_0084All of this changed in 2013 when SUNY decided to sell LICH, which was losing anywhere from $6 million to $10 million per month. On October 9, 2014, after a lengthy RFP process and many setbacks – including a labor dispute with the New York State Nursing Association (NYSNA) – Fortis Property Group would be successful.

What does this all mean?  Fortis has been given the green light to redevelop the site to include condominiums and a state of the art medical center to be operated by NYU Langone Medical Center.  In 2018, if all goes according to plan, a new housing development will be on the market and the residents of south Brooklyn will have a free-standing emergency room department. This is not the deal community residents and public advocates originally lobbied for, but sometimes success comes in small steps. Here is what the structured settlement will call for:

  • $5 million to upgrade the interim emergency department that NYU Langone Medical Center will operate until the new facility is complete.
  • $175 million to build a new facility with 125,000 square feet of space.
  • A medical treatment plan that will employ 70 doctors.
  • A total staff of 400.

I must admit there were times when I felt this would be a hopeless fight, and the residents would end up with little or no hope for quality health care.  In the early stages it was easier to call for an all or nothing proposition, but as we all know life is rarely this simple.  There are always challenges seen, and unseen, that further complicate financial deals of this magnitude. Not to minimize the daunting challenge of operating LICH, but my sense of why this fight was so important for James, and former Public Advocate now Mayor Bill DeBlasio, comes down to one word – ACCESS.  This was their way of ensuring an open dialogue around access to health care, during a time when the need is so great.  Perhaps, one day plans for a full-service hospital will show up in another form.

Outlining her agenda - wn.com

Outlining her agenda – article.wn.com

For me, this does not mean that Public Advocate James’ fight was lost or not needed.  I’m glad to know that we have elected officials who want to win for the people they represent.

While standing in opposition to a huge business deal such as this was may not always be practical, it is indeed admirable. This was not an easy process for Public Advocate James but she stood by the community and saw the debate through to the end.

To me, she still a champion and, from time to time, everybody needs one.

Have a great week!

Monique

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Credits:
SUNY, Fortis reach agreement on LICH – Crainsnewyork.com
The End for Long Island College Hospital – New York Time – nytimes.com
LICH Deal Collapses After Hiring Dispute – Crainsnewyork.com
University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital – wikipedia.org
LICH History – Dr. Hugh Gilgoff, LICH Pediatrics, Brooklyn, New York

The People’s Champion – Public Advocate Letitia James

Dear Readers:

In a couple of weeks, we will witness summer’s seamless transition to fall.  For many, the shift in seasons ushers in a new set of priorities.  There is a renewed sense of purpose, and we are committed to finishing the year on a high note.

At a New York City Council Meeting - Observer.com

At a New York City Council Meeting – Observer.com

Last year at this time, Brooklynites lent their support to former Councilwoman Letitia James as she pursued her dream of becoming New York City’s Public Advocate.  She would be the first African-American woman from Brooklyn to hold this position.  For many voters, James was the perfect choice, as she has spent much of her career advocating for the people of Brooklyn.  Ascending to this new role was clearly the next step.  On November 2, 2013, she would be successful in her quest.

Outlining her agenda - article.wn.com

Outlining her agenda – article.wn.com

Since taking office, Public Advocate James and her team have charted a broad agenda, and are focused on creating effective change for all New Yorkers.  They envision: Good Work for Fair Pay; Access to Healthcare; a Common Sense Public Education Policy; Utilizing the Court to Preserve Public Education; Universal School Lunch; Keeping New Yorkers in New York, and Legislative Action for Working People.

This past April, Public Advocate James and her team published their first progress report – Our First 100 Days.  Many New Yorkers have expressed their gratitude for the care and concern that she, and her team, bring to today’s challenges.  As a Brooklynite, this does not surprise me.  James is a tireless champion for social justice, education and legislative reform.  While the title that she holds is new, her support for those in need is not.

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We will provide you with a closer look at these initiatives, and their impact, in future Brooklyn Legends posts.  Today we wanted to provide you with a glimpse of the many things our champion is up to.

Many of the people who I have come in contact with believe our Public Advocate is just getting started.  She is just sharpening her focus.  I believe that her best days are ahead, and I want to see her win.  Her successes will become our successes, and that suits me just fine.  Besides, everyone needs a champion.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Monique

Will All Roads Lead to Brooklyn in 2016?

Dear Readers,

The recent speculation around the 2016 Democratic National Convention coming to Brooklyn has everyone excited, and with good reason. Our borough is in the midst of a renaissance that we have never seen before.

The completion of the new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn set the stage for the new burst of enthusiasm around building projects. This is a time of tremendous growth, but there have also been some challenges too, which I would love to discuss in the coming months. I remember hearing many years ago that nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and true progress comes with a price. Having said this, I chose to remain excited about the possibilities for all Brooklyn residents.

logoYesterday the Brooklyn Daily Eagle featured a great article that caught the world’s attention: Local politicians say Brooklyn is perfect spot for 2016 Democratic National Convention.  Several elected officials have weighed in including: Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Representatives Jerrold Nadler (representing New York’s 10th district), Carolyn Maloney, (representing New York’s 12th district), Nydia Velazquez (representing New York’s 7th district), Yvette Clarke (representing New York’s 9th district) and Hakeem Jeffries (representing New York’s 8th district).  Of course this is just the beginning of a very long conversation, but if each elected official could wave a magic wand all roads will lead to Brooklyn in 2016.  As this is such a hot topic, we will continue to update you as events unfold.

Rep. Yvette Clarke - Wikipedia.com

Rep. Yvette Clarke – Wikipedia.com

Today, I would like to make special note of Representative Yvette Clarke’s commitment to bringing the 2016 Democratic National Council to Brooklyn.  The objective is to set the stage for a comprehensive look at her significant contributions, which date back to her early days as a member of the New York City Council representing Brooklyn’s 40th district.

Representative Clarke has the distinction of succeeding her mother, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman elected to the New York City Legislature.  This was the first mother-daughter succession in the history of the Council.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to live in the district that both of these esteemed women serve as leaders. Of course the stage was sent for them many years ago by the late Honorable Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman and Caribbean-American elected to Congress.  She would later run for President of the United States.

In closing, I wanted to leave you with this quote which, in my opinion, says it all.

“Brooklyn has always been the starting place for the American Dream where people from around the world have come to build a better future for themselves and their children.  The same spirit that animates Brooklyn animates the Democratic Party: the belief that everyone should have the opportunity for full participation in our society.  We are a diverse community that has much to share with our fellow Americans, as I believe the Democratic National Convention here in 2016 will demonstrate to the thousands of guests and millions of viewers at home.”

Representative Yvette Clarke
June 25, 2014
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

We at Brooklyn Legends are so proud to count Representative Clarke as one of Brooklyn’s favorite daughters. You will have a chance to learn more about her dedication in the coming weeks.

Monique

Credits:

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Brooklyn Daily Eagle – June 25, 2014
Representative Yvette Clarke – http://clarke.house.gov