Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13), State Senator Marty Golden (R-C) and City Councilman Vincent Gentile (D) today announced plans to file a lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to prevent the discontinuation of emergency room and acute care services at the Victory Memorial Hospital site.
The lawmakers will file an Article 78 charging that the State’s decision to close the hospital and reject SUNY Downstate’s application to maintain ER and acute care services at the site were "arbitrary and capricious." An Article 78 is a type of lawsuit used to challenge the actions of government agencies. An Article 78 goes before the New York Supreme Court where a Judge will review the actions of the agency and has the authority to reverse the agency’s decision.
Fossella said, "The State’s decision to eliminate all critical medical services in our community flies in the face of common sense and reason. We have worked with the hospital and the State in good faith to reach a compromise. Unfortunately, the State seems more interested in closing Victory Hospital than allowing a responsible party to continue providing ER and acute care services there. The Downstate proposal was viable and would have met the needs of the community. I don’t understand why the State believes it’s in the public interest to force patients in potential life-and-death situations to waste critical minutes riding in an ambulance rather than receiving care in their own neighborhood. We have no other choice but to pursue legal action to force the State to do the right thing for our community."
Golden said, "Despite the community’s continued efforts to keep operating an emergency room at this location, the State Health Department has failed to listen to the people. They have failed to hear the fears we continue to address, that wait times at the three closest hospitals are often very lengthy. We will challenge this irresponsible and dangerous decision in Court. We cannot leave the entire neighborhood underserved in emergency medical situations. Failure to approve an emergency room for this location will put the health and safety of all citizens at great risk."
Gentile said, "The state leaves our constituents with very few options here. While we appreciate the excellent service of other local hospitals, the DOH’s wrongheaded decision about Victory causes longer trips for many needing emergency room services. What I don’t think they understand is without this service at Victory Memorial Hospital, critical minutes could be lost in emergency situations. This legal maneuver is our effort to breathe life back into ER services at the hospital."
Anthony Xanthakis, an attorney and former Bay Ridge resident, and Michael Petersen, a Bay Ridge attorney, will serve as the lawyers handling the case.
Xanthakis said, "There is a reasonable alternative to closing this vital hospital and the Department of Health must consider the needs of this large community before taking this drastic step."
Petersen said, "The communities of Southwest Brooklyn have fought long and hard in the court of public opinion to make the case that emergency services will be severely lacking if an emergency room does not continue at the Victory Memorial Hospital site. Sadly, it has fallen on deaf ears within the New York State Department of Health. Now, we will take our arguments to a Court of Law, a venue that the Department of Health cannot ignore."
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.