Written by Jill Nossa Wednesday, 12 February 2014 00:00
The first phase of big changes hit Glen Cove Hospital last week when the orthopedic surgery program was moved to Syosset Hospital, much to the chagrin of active community members who have been fighting the scheduled changes since the plans to downsize the hospital began last summer.
“700 workers will be immediately displaced from the community,” says Victoria Siegel, leader of the Save Glen Cove Hospital committee, which is active on Facebook. “This will have a devastating effect to the local economy.”
Many doctors, hospital staff members, community members and several politicians have been quite vocal in their attempts to preserve the hospital, fearing that the initial move will set off a chain events that would ultimately lead to the closing of the hospital entirely. On Jan. 31, a legal request for a temporary restraining order against NS-LIJ’s removal of equipment from Glen Cove to Syosset Hospital was discussed in the Nassau County Supreme Court, and while they did not win, another hearing date has been set for March 5, seeking an injunction to stop the movement of other programs.
NS-LIJ representatives in court claimed that 125 patients were already scheduled for surgeries in Syosset prior to the hearing and that “irreparable harm will happen to those 125 patients, and the physicians and staff involved therein,” according to Tom Mohen of the law firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, representing those who filed the complaint.
He and others involved in the fight that are hopeful that a dialogue between hospital officials, staff members and community members could change the scheduled course of action.
Those opposed to the downsizing contend that since Glen Cove Hospital earned over $600,000 in 2012, it is financially sound.
“The ‘new’ hospital model has not been tested in the New York region, and there is no evidence that it will be fiscally viable,” says Siegel. “Furthermore, Glen Cove Hospital was established more than 90 years ago because there was a need in this geographically-isolated community for a full service hospital. The population of the community has increased substantially over time. There are many excellent nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the Glen Cove community because of the presence of the hospital.”
Also, she says, the inability to admit patients to a hospital in the community may lead to physician migration away from Glen Cove and could dissuade new, young physicians from relocating to the area.
“The main reason that there are plans to downsize Glen Cove Hospital is, of course, financial,” Siegel adds. “Because Syosset Hospital is licensed under the North Shore Manhasset charter, the health system has the ability to bill insurers at a significantly higher rate for the identical services currently being performed more economically at Glen Cove Hospital. Similarly, the psychiatry and rehabilitative services can yield higher reimbursement levels elsewhere.”
Assemblyman Charles Lavine and Sen. Carl Marcellino introduced legislation for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System to hold a public hearing so that community members can voice their input. Lavine introduced the bill in December, and Marcellino introduced a bill in the Senate in mid-January for the hearings.
NS-LIJ submitted an application to the state health department in December to decertify inpatient psychiatric services and 18 psychiatric beds; a total of 103 inpatient beds are expected to be lost, with the loss of the traumatic brain injury unit (which just opened last year) the psychiatry program and the inpatient physical rehabilitation program, in addition to the orthopedic surgery program. The building will be used for outpatient care; the home page of the hospital now states, “Glen Cove Hospital is placing greater emphasis on outpatient, community- and home-based services, while maintaining emergency services and introducing programs to promote wellness, prevent illness and keep people out of the hospital. This approach is consistent with the transformation of health care delivery models occurring across the country.”
Anyone interested in helping with the legal costs can send checks to Davidoff Hutcher& Citron LLP with “On behalf of Dr. Holm-Andersen” written in the memo section and sent to: Davidoff Hutcher& Citron LLP, 200 Garden City Plaza Suite 315, Garden City, NY 11530 .