Court Date Set For Battle To Save Er Services At Victory Memorial Hospital

Martin J. Golden

January 11, 2008

[Brooklyn, NY] – The battle to save emergency room and acute care services at the Victory Memorial Hospital site will heat up on January 11, 2008, when Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13), State Senator Marty Golden (R-C) and City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D) square off against the New York State Department of Health (DOH) in the first court hearing of their lawsuit.

Judge Gerald Held of Brooklyn State Supreme Court has ordered all parties to 360 Adams Street at 9:30 a.m. that day to begin proceedings on the lawmakers’ Article 78, which seeks to force the DOH to comply with State Freedom of Information (FOIL) laws mandating the release of certain records regarding the hospital. An Article 78 is a type of lawsuit used to challenge the actions of government agencies. An Article 78 allows a Judge to review the actions of the agency and has the authority to reverse the agency’s decision.

Fossella said, "We are ready to take this fight to the courts. We will argue that the State’s decision threatens the health and well-being of residents of our community and should be overturned. We have worked in good faith to reach a compromise, but the only proposal that seems to appeal to the State is to close Victory Hospital and eliminate core medical services. We believe the State’s actions are wrong, and now they will have to explain themselves to a judge in a court of law."

Golden said, "The battle to keep open the emergency room at the Victory Memorial Hospital site permanently continues and is about to enter the courtroom. The lawsuit filed by Congressman Vito Fossella, Councilman Vincent Gentile and myself appears to be the only way we can win this fight that has sparked much concern throughout Southwest Brooklyn. Let the Department of Health testify as to why we do not deserve emergency services in our community and how our level of care will not suffer if this emergency room is closed. I believe that the health and safety of the neighborhood is in jeopardy and so the fight goes on."

Gentile said, "We stand ready to work with the DOH to add emergency care needs to the people of my district. But if the DOH continues to ignore or not realize those needs, then we will continue our case in court and let the facts speak for themselves."

Anthony Xanthakis, an attorney and former Bay Ridge resident, and Michael Petersen, a Bay Ridge attorney, are serving as the lawyers handling the case.

Xanthakis said, "By taking this step toward saving Victory we will force the DOH to give us the data necessary to prove just how vital the Victory Emergency Room is to the entire community and that closing it would create a public health crisis."

Victory Memorial Hospital logs about 17,000 ER visits annually, which will now have to be distributed among three neighboring but overburdened hospitals, including Lutheran Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center and Coney Island Hospital.