Here’s a riddle that has, for some of us, a simple answer.
A full-service hospital that loses money—and loses money big-time if run inefficiently—happens to sit on some prime real estate in Brooklyn. What should be done?
The hospital site also borders two of the healthiest, wealthiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. There is a prime opportunity to engage those communities for support, the kind of support that could be garnered for a sports ‘home team’. The absence of LICH has created desire and belief that the neighboring historic brownstone communities SHOULD have their own ‘home team’ hospital. Do they deserve it? Would they support it? A former operator of LICH ignored and even severed those traditional venues of support, which had pre-existed at LICH in years past. (If there had NOT been a history of community devotion to LICH, it is doubtful that the 100-plus million dollar Othmer bequest would have included LICH.)
What many observers do not realize is that the original Brooklyn Hospital (now the expanded Brooklyn Hospital Center) also enjoyed historic and significant support from the Heights-Hill community. Like the old LICH, it attracted board members, large contributors and volunteers from the same community. LICH’s recent former operator killed the structure for such support and discouraged high-level, Heights-based Wall Street execs from being involved. Recent history shows that the operator had plans for LICH other than revival; community representation was an advisory role on soft matters.
Brooklyn Hospital Center, on the other hand, has continued to draw board support from the Heights-Hill community. Given the chance to create a new “hometown hospital” in the middle of the Heights and Cobble Hill, a merged LICH-BHC might create the historic and medical institution that could, in essence, rekindle the fires of broad-based community support — a support that would include some of the wealthiest families in Brooklyn. Under the reorganization skills of Dr. Richard Becker, the man who brought BHC out of bankruptcy, the merged institution would have two physical plants, each with appropriate specialties, and a broader base of access to and support for both sites.
If BHC can provide the communities around LICH with more than simply an ER clinic, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill might imagine and fulfill what we all need: a home team medical facility that can make us proud enough to contribute and volunteer.