For the past four months, the vast majority of LICH workers have been going to work, despite having only between 29-40 of their 506 beds filled. Although workers continue to go in, there are real effects of the shuttering of the majority of beds: some doctors have left to other hospitals, closing down parts of units, and SUNY (who owns LICH) uses the imposed lack of patients (patients still show up to LICH requesting care) to funnel people to SUNY Downstate in Flatbush, which is also receiving cuts.
Last week, management announced plans to the union to cut the vast majority of programs, only leaving a few emergency medical services in tact, including the ICU and the emergency department, but not the operating room, labor and delivery, medical surgery, or other complimentary departments, meaning patients would need to be transferred in critical condition, and calling for a layoff of the vast majority of workers. Through legal negotiation, the layoffs have been postponed, but the struggle is not over. Workers and patients at LICH have been strong and resolute in their struggle, and will need to continue. On Tuesday, Bill DeBlasio will likely become mayor, and workers will be left to struggle against management, the state, and the new rounds of medical repayments that will continue in their way. Many workers and patients refer to the workers continuing to go to work through the patient closures as an “occupation.” This kind of militancy is necessary to keep our hospitals open, and to continue and improve care!