Thursday, 29 August 2013 00:00
The field of healthcare is rapidly evolving. Changing reimbursement patterns and a renewed focus on preventive services has already resulted in the reduction of in-patient hospital services. This has been a huge issue for Long Islanders – one that will become greater as changes in the healthcare market are accelerated by the Affordable Care Act.
An example of this evolution was the recent decision by the North Shore-LIJ Health System to convert Glen Cove Hospital into an ambulatory center with no beds for in-patient care. Glen Cove Hospital has long been the cornerstone health care facility for the North Shore community, and needs to remain open and active for both out- and in-patient services. Although representatives from the North Shore Hospital system have been willing to discuss the issue with concerned physicians, they will not guarantee they won’t seek to decertify in-patient beds. While North Shore-LIJ may be experiencing fiscal pressure due to current healthcare economics and its recent spate of acquisitions (including Lenox Hill Hospital), the system must understand that its number one goal must be to ensure quality healthcare for the communities it serves.
Although there are economic reasons why Glen Cove Hospital should remain a thriving institution, including preservation of jobs and local businesses, as a clinician, I am deeply concerned about the potential impact on the health of my patients for two reasons.
First is the geographic isolation of Glen Cove Hospital. The closest area hospitals include Syosset Hospital, which already has somewhat limited in-patient services, and St. Francis Hospital, which is often over-burdened with high patient volumes. It is not medically appropriate to transfer critically ill patients on a routine basis – when every minute counts, time would be lost relocating patients that come via ambulance from the Glen Cove area to an outside hospital.
Second is the potential impact on the future of Long Island health care as a whole. If this plan by North Shore-LIJ to close a profitable, high quality community hospital is realized, this will only serve as an incentive to other hospital executives to do the same. Ultimately, I fear we will be left with a local health care system that will not be up to standards or able to meet the needs of our local community.
During my more than two decades in the field of medicine I have witnessed many local and national challenges, but none more significant than this. There are a growing number of residents, including Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who have joined my medical colleagues and are making their voices heard and fighting to keep Glen Cove Hospital fully open. In addition, Glen Cove’s current mayor, Ralph Suozzi has initiated print and online petitions that have already totaled more than 13,000 signatures. I urge all Long Islanders to sign the petition, as this closure would have a lasting impact on all of us. Please visit change.org and search Glen Cove.
I hope that residents of Nassau and Suffolk will rally for this worthy cause and help save the future of Long Island’s healthcare.
Dr. Eric Hochberg, Advanced Urology Centers Glen Cove Division and Chief, Division of Urology, at Glen Cove Hospital