With LICH in Limbo, A 20 Minute Wait for an Ambulance Leads to a Death in Red Hook

At a March forum regarding proposals for LICH, Cobble Hill Association member/Homer’s cousin Jeff Strabone declared, “If we lose this hospital, people will die.”

Not even a week since LICH ceased functioning as a full hospital that prediction has sadly come true. While it remains to be seen how direct the connection between the LICH closure and the death yesterday of Red Hook resident Danny Cruz Jr. is, the Red Hook Star Revue is already connecting the dots:

RHSR: “The three drivers were arguing about who would take him,” James said. Cruz finally arrived at Methodist Hospital, but it was too late. A doctor told James that he had been without proper oxygen to his brain for almost 45 minutes, and was probably brain dead. They did manage to get his heart beating again, and he was kept alive by machines. Today, at 5:00, with his family around him, the machines were turned off. Danny was a registered organ donor, and parts of him will go to save others.

But this is small consolation to his family. Khadijah recalled that two years ago Cruz’s eldest daughter Tea had a critical asthma attack, and a LICH ambulance was on the scene within two minutes and she was properly taken care of. LICH used to keep an ambulance at Richards Street, by Coffey Park, covering Red Hook emergencies. The drivers knew their way around the Houses. For someone unfamiliar with the streets and buildings of the Red Hook Houses, it could take a while to find an address like 16 Mill.

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  • Maggie

    Just the beginning of many more deaths to come. Due to the closure of LICH, I’m sure there are fatalities that have occurred that we haven’t heard about. Heartbreaking! I’m sorry for his family and friends.

  • TeddyNYC

    More people will die because of driver confusion, heavy traffic, double-parked cars, delivery trucks and the greater distance that an ambulance has to cover now.

  • hoax_buster

    Headline:” With LICH in Limbo, A 20 Minute Wait for an Ambulance Leads to a Death in Red Hook”
    Yet nothing in the article substantiates this stunning conclusion.

  • Name

    This is just getting insane. Do you realize how many hospitals we have within a 15 minute drive compared to 99.9% of the country? Just pure silliness at this point. If somoen did die, that is terrible and my heart goes out to their family, but you have no way of connecting those dots.

  • Strauss

    If anything, this just shows that a failure to plan and deal with the closing of LICH, and not the closing per se, led to the death. There could still be an ambulance parked there, rushing people to a hospital when necessary. The politicians have encouraged this to be a political issue (“hey, look at me, I’m getting arrested!”) rather than focusing on the management of the public health issue.

  • HicksOnHicks

    I’m truly saddened by this pointless loss of life. But based on the facts mentioned in the article, the closure of LICH wasn’t the direct cause of this death. Rather, it was driver confusion. Wouldn’t it makes sense to spend thousands to train drivers rather than spend millions to vainly attempt to rescue a hospital that failed in the marketplace?

  • Solovely

    Story about a safety net, in high demand hospital, in the Bronx; Lincoln Hospital, perhaps of interest to those in this thread.


  • Jazz

    There is no conclusion in the headline. Please go back under your bridge.

  • Rick

    When you’re considering how many hospitals are needed, don’t forget to keep in mind how many more people live per square mile in NYC than in 99% of the rest of the country.

  • hoax_buster

    jazz, the headline states — unequivocally — that problems at LICH were the cause of a patient’s death. That’s a conclusion. Stated as a certainty. The headline is nonsense.

  • Daddyo

    Real tragedy is loss of Taco Bell inside LICH, which closed a while ago…

  • bored at work

    This post is disgraceful click trolling. The headline is misleading at best. The Red Hook Star Review post, which this post quotes says:

    “It will take further investigation to find out exactly why this happened. Was it because of problems at 911, which have been well documented? Was it because of the closing of LICH, which was just taking place on the 21st of May? All this remains to be seen. What the facts indicate is that a young father of three is gone because he didn’t get to the hospital in time.”

    Is that “connecting the dots” or raising legitimate questions? I give the Red Hook Star credit for reporting. This post is pure conjecture.

    As I hope we all learned in high school (or before), just because something happens after something else, it doesn’t mean the 2nd thing was caused by the first.

  • TeddyNYC

    By the time the ambulance shows up (driver confusion and all), paramedics do their thing and the ambulance gets through the congested streets, we’re talking 30-45 minutes to the ER. 20-25 maybe late at night if your lucky stars are aligned that particular night. Forget about 15 minutes, unless you live within sight of LICH and that ER is available/open. We need an ER in the immediate area.

  • Jazz

    Feel better now? Now please don’t get me started on your assumptions here. The Red Hook Star Revue has been banging the LICH drum for quite some time and if you think they’re reporting is unbiased, then I have a bridge you might be interested in purchasing.

  • bored at work

    I didn’t make any assumptions. I read this post and the original post and made a comment. I never said anything was unbiased, either. I said the Red Hook Star actually reported on something. The BHB used someone else’s reporting and then created a ridiculous headline.

    Who is making assumptions here?

  • StoptheChop

    It isn’t necessarily true that as long as sick people can go SOMEWHERE, it’s ok to close a hospital that’s in a heavily populated
    urban area…..”Both Brooklyn Hospital Center (BHC) in Fort Greene and New York Methodist in Park Slope have seen their ER usage increase by
    thousands of patients this year, according to figures provided by the NYS Department of Health and the hospitals.

    BHC’s emergency department usage increased by 1,841 during the first four months of this
    year, while Methodist’s saw an increase of 1,330 during the same time period.

    Patients report stretchers lining hallways and 24-hour waits in ERs before hospital rooms open up.”


  • Kerri West

    Let’s correct this: they were not “drivers” arguing over who would take the patient, no matter how unprofessional they may have been. They were EMTs trained in basic life support and emergency response, not chauffeurs.

  • Kerri West

    I agree. There is not enough information here to determine whether or not the wait time was the deciding factor in the patient’s outcome.

  • Kerri West

    No kidding. I used to work 911 in an area where 20 minutes was not even a possible response time for many calls, due to distance. There were plenty of people that lived 20 miles from the closest available units. I saw plenty of people die because they were simply not close enough to definitive care – no matter what method was used to transport them there. (We used helicopters regularly for trauma.) If they wanted a better chance at living through a medical emergency, they really just needed to live closer to a hospital. It may sound insensitive, but it is reality. There is no way to do CAT scans in the field or bring the Cath lab to the patient…. yet.

  • bknative

    Why hasn’t there been more outrage over all these months. Everyone has been saying this would happen. Where is everyone? Residents of the neighborhoods that are served by LICH should be up in arms protesting in front of that place & at SUNY’s offices by the thousands.

  • Bknative

    There is no conclusion & the headline doesn’t state that at all. It says LICH is in Limbo & a red Hook resident died. Both are true.

  • gbkm

    The hospital didn’t fail in the marketplace. Its negligent, mismanaging operators did. So yeah lets get rid of them – not the hospital.

  • gbkm

    If things keep up the way are in this city, that bridge just may be up for sale too pretty soon

  • hoax_buster

    Oh please. The headline is straight out of Logic 101. The headline says LICH is a mess, therefore a man died in Red Hook.

    What would be the point of a headline stating “A 20 Minute Wait for an Ambulance Leads to a Death in Red Hook”?

    Imagine “With LICH in Limbo, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”.…or “With LICH in Limbo, Last Exit to Brooklyn”….or “With LICH in limbo, Only the Dead Know Brooklyn”.

  • MonroeOrange

    i think that the above reporting does connect the dots, that the closure of LICH was in someway responsible for this death. If LICH was still there, there would not have been a debate as to which hospital this person should have been brought to.

  • mel guest

    FROM: Grace Wong
    Vice President for Managed Care and Clinical

    RE: Downstate’s
    Contracts with New York Exchange Plans

    As we all know, on January 1, 2014, the
    New York Health Exchange plans went live. SUNY Downstate Medical Center is
    currently contracted with ONLY four such plans — HealthFirst, Fidelis Care,
    Affinity, and POMCO. Two other Health Exchange plans (Oscar and Health
    Republic) do not have direct contracts with SUNY Downstate UHB, but are clients
    of MagnaCare and will thus be accessing our services under our agreement with

    It has come to my attention that there
    is still some confusion regarding SUNY Downstate’s participation with health
    plans that have enrollees in product lines developed specifically under the
    federal Affordable Care Act.

    Traditionally, when SUNY Downstate UHB
    enters into a provider contract with an insurer, we participate in all product
    lines of the health plan to mitigate confusion about plan participation.
    However, these same health plans are asking for steep discounts to SUNY’s rates
    for these “exchange products,” and our financial risk with respect to these new
    products is compounded by the high co-pays and deductibles that these programs
    require of enrollees who were formerly uninsured.

    Therefore, it is simply not in SUNY
    Downstate’s financial interest to participate with all the health plans that
    have exchange programs. For example, we do not participate in MetroPlus Health
    Plan’s “marketplace” plans for the reason stated above, but we are still in
    their network for Medicaid, Family Health Plus, CHP, and Medicare Advantage

    While we continue to have discussions
    with plans that have “exchange” products that we are not participating providers
    for, the fact remains that currently only those plans noted in the first
    paragraph above are formally contracted with SUNY Downstate and UPB providers.
    For all other NY “exchange” products — even if a “contracted plan” for
    Medicaid or other lines of business (such as Emblem Health and Empire BCBS) —
    SUNY Downstate does NOT have contracts to participate in their specific
    exchange programs