Thursday, 20 February 2014 00:00
(The following is a copy of a letter recently sent to Michael Dowling, president and CEO of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish health system)
Dear President Dowling:
Thank you for the call from your office regarding my letters, expressing the deep and real concerns of the community and local physicians about North Shore-LIJ’s proposal to convert the almost century old Glen Cove Hospital to an urgent care center, eliminating 103 hospital beds, the highly ranked orthopedic surgery center and drastically downsizing other units. To close, emasculate and diminish a century old, highly respected and profitable hospital, ranked in the top 15 percent of the many great hospitals of the state of
New York, requires an extraordinarily compelling rationale.
When that hospital serves a highly populated, highly vulnerable geographic region, as the communities of the North Shore of Long Island, such a closing is reckless. Reflect, if you and your colleagues will, on the impact of the storms Sandy and Irene. Reflect on what has just happened in Atlanta, where school children were sleeping in schools, countless people were trapped in their cars, and there were accidents and anxieties in abundance due to a major winter storm. Governor Cuomo said after Hurricane Sandy, “We have the storm of the century every one or two years.”
Emergency room services and intensive care units, as physicians know, are inadequate when there are not highly competent and diverse teams of cardiologists, neurologists, orthopedists, surgeons, nurses and staff available in a full service community hospital.
Physicians can articulate numerous medical circumstances in which the downsized skeleton that is proposed will fail to preserve the lives and health of patients within this historic region. The rationales your staff and lawyers have tendered do not hold. If the heart is
extracted, the other organs cannot be expected to survive. That is why the community and the physicians demand the maintenance of the prestigious and revered Glen Cove Hospital as a full service community hospital, serving a region with 75,000 residents.
A broad coalition of opposition to the conversion and closing of the hospital is being formed. The NS-LIJ’s plan is widely perceived as a stealth attack, arising from behind closed doors, that threatens the health and needs of our region.
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. The judge has empathetically required that NS-LIJ and those opposed to their plan have a dialogue. The sincere concerns of the medical professionals, including physicians, nurses and staff must be freely heard in this dialogue, in addition to the voices of representatives of the community.
Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio met in January to save community hospitals in Brooklyn. The nation, state and Long Island have to increase, not decrease and diminish, accessibility to comprehensive and highly competent medical care.
The current plan is equivalent to a defacto closing of the Glen Cove Hospital, and brings together serious issues of patients’ rights, health care rights, physician rights and civil rights.
You must lead in crafting an effective solution that preserves and enhances this comprehensive community hospital and integrates it within a more powerful network.
Ronald P. Phipps