New York Judge: State's Hospital Closure Regulations Too Vague

A New York judge criticized the state's regulations for hospital closures, calling them "unconstitutionally vague" and complicating the closure of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes said the regulations for hospital closures do not provide clear criteria for evaluation from the state Department of Health. This, the judge said, invalidates any approval the department has issued to close LICH. The judge's ruling will not be effective until an order is filed, however, which will likely occur later this month.

The judge took issue with a specific regulatory passage, according to the report: "No medical facility shall discontinue its operations or surrender its operating certificate unless 90 days' notice of its intention to do so is given to the commissioner [of health] and his written approval obtained."

Judge Baynes said the passage's vagueness "assures that the [health] commissioner has unfettered discretion under its terms to approve the closure of LICH for any reason, or no reason at all," according to the report.

In his decision, which stemmed from two, separate lawsuits challenging the hospital closure, Judge Baynes also said the regulation failed to make clear whether a 90-day notice period meant that the Department of Health must wait 90 days after the hospital filed a closure plan to allow the closing to move forward.

LICH's closure was complicated last month when New York State Supreme Court Judge Carolyn Demarest ordered that former owner Continuum Health Partners, based in New York City, reclaim the struggling hospital. If Continuum does not take over LICH, the judge said the state would appoint a caretaker or receiver to manage the hospital's operations.

More Articles on New York Hospital Closures:

Long Island College Hospital Preps for Possible Closure
Ailing Hospitals Emerge as Sleeper Issue in NYC's Mayoral Race
Interfaith Medical Center Closure Delayed

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