Private Equity Stalks Hospitals

Labor Notes June 20, 2013 by Alexandra Bradbury

In a war over the future of a Brooklyn hospital, health care workers rushed to Long Island College Hospital today for an emergency rally—after administrators began diverting patients to other sites.

Until today, health care workers had succeeded in keeping LICH “Open for Care,” but they are battling last-minute legislative maneuvers and a threatened Wall Street takeover.

Beginning at 6 a.m. today, ambulances were instructed to divert patients to other facilities, and physicians were to begin transferring their patients away.

The hospital’s actions flew in the face of a judge’s temporary restraining order directing it to maintain staffing levels.

Today’s was the second emergency rally this week. The hospital’s defenders rallied yesterday against state legislators’ revived efforts to allow private equity investors to take over certain hospitals, including LICH. It’s not currently legal for for-profit companies to own hospitals in New York.

One bill would create five “pilot programs” for private equity to invest in New York hospitals. Another would open the door to for-profit ownership of Brooklyn hospitals specifically.

“For-profit health care kills,” said nurse Jill Furillo, executive director of the New York State Nurses Association. “I’ve seen it in other states.”

Long Island College Hospital sits on prime real estate in a gentrifying part of Brooklyn. That’s why its owner, the State University of New York, tried to close it down, nurses charge. To developers—who’d like to put condos there—the hospital would be worth more dead than alive.

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