Iceberg - LICH in the background
On separate and personal trajectories yesterday evening, Vincent and I learned two interesting things about this town we live in.
He, embarking on a cruise around New York Harbor, read a sign beside the Hudson that said that lined seahorses (that's their name: lined seahorses) frequent the wooden piles in the water, and like that habitat.
In the Hudson River.
I will be looking into this. And Vince feels about sea horses what he feels about chameleons. He may just have found a reason to like this city.
That's the big news, despite its brevity.
I discovered, after days of wondering about their presence, that there are now 70 private security guards deployed around the edges of LICH (rhymes with hitch) - the beleaguered and sprawling Long Island College Hospital, two doors up from us. It has - had - a busy emergency room, my primary care physician was there, and that's where I was (not) treated for the raccoon disease Frank was convinced I might have two years ago (instead, they gave me a course of Hepatitis B shots in the light of the Litter Mobbing activities I was engaged in at the time). LICH is owned by SUNY (rhymes with looney) - State University of New York, who says it is haemorrhaging $15 million a month and must close.
And, get this: the staff has been told not to come into work. But remains on full pay. Patients are turned away.
SUNY wants to sell the property to developers who will knock it down and turn it into some very expensive real estate. Ask Mr Elgart, our landlord. Market forces, says his daughter, in response to my question about why they raised the rent $600 on us. But our neighbour's market forces only raised his rent $200. Whatever.
Things have become ugly, there have been arrests, including that of my councilman, Brad Lander.
In the last week or so we have noticed a sudden bloom (like the algae that preceeds a dead zone in the ocean - a consequence of phosphate runoff) of security guards around the place. And fewer sirens. There is apparently a handful of patients left in the building.
So I talked to one of the security guards today. It was that guard who told me there are 70 guards, from 12 different security companies on the premises.
But all of them have very basic uniforms that say "Summit". They have nothing like genuine ID's - no photo ID at all - just names embroidered on baseball caps and a laminated badge that says "Security". Then there are the guys in dark blazers, whom news reports have describe as armed.
It is creepy. And smells of dead rats.
Who are you guarding? I asked.
They don't tell us everything, the guard said, half apologetically.
Do they tell you to look out for any particular sort of person?*
No, not really. It all seems peaceful to me.
Then the guard said, They tell us not to use our radios! He was incredulous.
They sound paranoid, I said. Like someone's listening to you.
Uh huh, the guard concurred. They are.
The guard had Googled the hospital at home and said, It's real old, dating back to the 19th century...
Uh huh, I said, that's the part next door to us.
I hope it stays open, said the guard. But if they want to pay a lot of money for us to work every day, I'm glad.
Oddly, it sounded like good money.
More expired rats. Most security guards don't make good money.
It is creepy.
I like the seahorse story, better.
Update, 6.49pm - just spoke to another guard taking his "fifteen" as he put it, on our stoop's front steps. He says they are guarding the hospital against angry workers whose pay will cease the minute the hospital is officially closed. "No severance, nothin'." Nurses, doctors, technicians, cleaners, caterers..."We are the hospital's bullet proof vest, " he said, spreading his hands over his chest to illustrate. "They are calling us scabs. But I understand. They got mortgages to pay, kids to send to school. I just hope nobody goes postal."
More LICH Links:
Nurses Roam the Empty Halls - New York Times
650 LICH Employees Told Not to Come Back to Work - Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Waits in the Wings - World Socialist Website
Brooklyn Officials Storm LICH - Brooklyn Daily Eagle
LICH Under Lockdown - - Red Hook Star Revue