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Hospital: ‘We’ll Remain Full-Service’

More than 100 local area residents turned out Feb.12 at Glen Cove City Hall to hear a panel of administrators from Glen Cove Hospital and North Shore-LIJ, along with doctors, city officials and consultants, discuss the latest developments in the hotly debated plans for changes in the operation of the 90-year-old Glen Cove Hospital.

This past summer, NS-LIJ announced it was moving its highly regarded orthopedic unit to Syosset Hospital, which is also part of the North Shore Health Care system. The announcement sparked an outpouring of opposition by the community to what many perceived as a first step to closing the hospital.

At the meeting at City Hall, hospital administrators and doctors affiliated with the hospital gave assurances that “The hospital is not closing,” according to Mark Salazzo, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the North Shore-LIJ Health Care System.

The sentiment was echoed by Dr. George Dunn, a long-time family medicine practitioner in Glen Cove.  “The hospital is going to stay open; it’s going to be a full-service hospital.”

In a prepared statement, NS-LIJ Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Battinelli, said “The North Shore-LIJ Health System will continue to maintain a full-service Emergency Department, inpatient beds and a range of other services at Glen Cove Hospital.”

Battinelli said the restructuring of the hospital puts “a greater emphasis on outpatient, community- and home-based services, in recognition of the changes occurring in the way health care is delivered and financed.”

Community members expressed their concern that the hospital has not included them in its discussion of future plans, and has led them to believe the hospital was abandoning its role of providing services to the “geographically isolated” region which serves 76,000 people, comprising populations in Bavyille, Sea Cliff, and other areas in addition to Glen Cove.

Jeff Kraut, senior vice president for strategy for NS-LIJ, cited declining inpatient surgery procedures at Glen Cove and an increase in ambulatory surgery to explain the hospital’s new focus on ambulatory surgery. Hospital executives assured the community that the facility would still maintain its emergency room and other facilities, including one or more operating rooms and a round-the-clock anesthesiologist. At the same time, Glen Cove’s orthopedic program has been moved to Syosset Hospital, which is also in the North Shore-LIJ Health Care System; the first orthopedic surgery was performed there Feb. 3 (although as of mid-February, Syosset Hospital’s website did not list its newly acquired orthopedic specialty).

Recognizing the large number of senior care facilities and nursing homes in the area served by Glen Cove Hospital, Battinelli said the hospital plans “to strengthen services in a way that will better meet the current and future needs of the community, especially our seniors, who will be able to access a broader array of care more quickly and conveniently.”

Dr. Ingo Holm-Andersen, who is the plaintiff in a legal case against the hospital’s plans to implement its conversion to a primarily ambulatory facility, urged the hospital administrators to make a solid commitment not to abandon Glen Cove.

“Remember the old saying,” he said. “'You don’t need a hospital until you need a hospital.’”

New York State Senator Carl Marcellino, attending the meeting as a member of the community, said the meeting should have been held many months earlier, instead of now—after changes have already been implemented and others are being discussed. “Plans still seem to be in flux,” he said, criticizing the timing of announcements and lack of involvement of the community in the restructuring of the hospital.

Some audience members expressed concern that not all Glen Cove Hospital employees who were terminated as part of the restructuring of the hospital had been “transitioned” to new jobs.

Salazzo and Susan Kwiatek, executive director of Glen Cove Hospital, assured the community that procedures were now in place to provide all excessed employees with employment in the North Shore Health Care system.