Written by Jill Nossa Saturday, 14 September 2013 00:00
A crowd of about 500 people gathered at the second rally to save the Glen Cove Hospital on Saturday, Aug. 31, a more organized and informative event than the first. Residents waved signs urging the North Shore Health System to “Save
Our Hospital” while local politicians, hospital employees and residents with personal stories to share took to the microphone.
Speaking on a stage set up behind the Glen Cove Public Library, Mayor Ralph Suozzi opened the rally with an explanation of intent.
“This gives us a chance to come together as a community,” he said. “The uncertainty has caused a lot of fear and anger.”
Officials from surrounding communities attended, including Mayor Doug Watson of Bayille. “We have to maintain the pressure,” he said. “This is a great health system and it’s not just about the neighborhood but the neighbors.”
Suozzi said he has had a lot of communication with hospital administrators and that he plans on having a one-on-one meeting with Michael Dowling to “figure out” how to make sure the health system remains strong in Glen Cove.
Noting that the petitions have received a total of 18,000 signatures to date, he urged residents to sign in order to get the attention of Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Nirav Shah from the state department of health.
He noted further that “no application for change has been filed to date” which means there is still time to potentially discuss any changes that will happen down the line.
“We want to make sure that any changes can be brought before the public for review,” Suozzi said.
Hospital donor Frank Feinberg said, at 90 years old, he has “never seen anything as amateur and wrong” as what he has witnessed in the past couple of months. “The actions of management are indescribable...losing the hospital will undoubtedly kill Glen Cove.” He asked residents to “do whatever you can to support the movement.”
Mayor Suozzi said that the talks seemed to be making a difference so far.
“We are in the room because of your voices and your signatures,” Suozzi said.
While a lot of residents have expressed emotional ties to the hospital, Suozzi stressed that in order to really make an impact, detailing cases of how much the area needs this hospital will likely have a greater impact on any final decisions.
The Hosey family of Glen Cove shared a story about their son, Sean, who is now 14. When he was 8 years old, he slipped and fell through a glass door at their home. Sean’s mother, Melinda, said they arrived at Glen Cove Hospital “within minutes” and Sean, being “desperately in need of blood” underwent 10 hours of surgery.
“We had a short window of time...things could have been very different.”
Dr. Gerard Vitalie said, “Sean is living proof of why we need this hospital...it is not just the doctors, the nurses, the ancillary staff, but the community needs it as well.”
Dr. Eric Hochberg, who said he has been at Glen Cove Hospital for 30 years and started the same year the NS-LIJ health system began, noted that the health system began in Glen Cove and said that the hospital is financially doing well.
He expressed concern at the distance between Glen Cove and other hospitals and speculated that down the road, they may even decide the ER is not worth the cost.
“If the ER closes, who will be there to save the next Sean Hosey?”
“We want a public process as this goes forward,” said Tom Suozzi, former Nassau County Executive and current candidate. “It’s important that we stay involved.”
“Nothing yet has been decided by New York State,” said Assemblyman Charles Lavine. He noted, “We are not going to war with the North Shore Health System” but did stress the importance the hospital has on the community from a financial stand point. He commented on the strength of community and said it is “remarkable” to have such a strong turnout on a hot, muggy holiday weekend.
Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton said a big reason she bought her home in Glen Cove was because of its proximity to the hospital, since one of her daughters is diabetic.
Dave Gugerty, Democratic candidate for the Nassau County Legislature in the 18th district, also mentioned the importance of keeping the hospital open in a full capacity to service the community of the North Shore. “Put paper to pen...you wouldn’t believe the power that has..Let’s get this done.”
Hospital pharmacist Joseph Simoneschi said, “The changes made in the past always made sense. The current transition does not make sense.” He said he has patients from surrounding communities that travel to Glen Cove. “The patient comes first...continue to rally.”
Stressing the impact traveling to hospitals in Syosset, Manhasset or elsewhere would have on patients and their relatives, Myrta Adamczak said, “What about the environment and gas consumption? The baby boomers are being attacked because our parents need us. The elderly are being attacked...what good is a hospital if we can’t get to it?”
“We are having ongoing discussions with Mayor Suozzi and other elected officials, community leaders and local physicians to get their input on ambulatory care and home-based services needed in the community,” said Terry Lynam, a spokesman for the NS-LIJ system. “Those conversations will continue in the weeks and months ahead. The most important thing people need to understand is that Glen Cove Hospital is not closing -- it’s just evolving to meet community needs.”