NS-LIJ OFFICIALS PLEDGE TO OPERATE GLEN COVE AS A “FULL SERVICE HOSPITAL”; DEFINITION OF “FULL SERVICE” EVOLVING
February 15, 2014 -- At a community meeting at Glen Cove City Hall on Wednesday evening, North Shore-LIJ Health system officials stated that while plans for the Glen Cove Hospital are still in a state of flux, the facility would continue to serve the community as a full service hospital long into the foreseeable future. The event was organized and presided over by Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello, and several local elected officials who represent the greater Glen Cove area were in attendance, including Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, Assemblyman Charles Lavine, Assemblyman Michael Montesano, and State Senator Carl Marcellino.
Earlier in the day, North Shore-LIJ Chief Medical Officer David Battinelli, MD, released a statement in which he outlined the services that the hospital would continue to provide. They include a 24 hour/day, 365 day/year emergency department; an unspecified number of beds for inpatient stays; a Family Medicine Program that would provide personalized health care and preventative services for patients of all ages; the Don Monti Cancer Care Center providing “comprehensive care for a wide range of cancers and blood disorders”; out-patient rehabilitation services providing physical, occupational and respiratory therapy; a surgical unit; and a “comprehensive range of home-based services.” At Wednesday’s meeting, officials said that the hospital would continue to maintain “fully staffed” ICU, CCU, and Telemetry units.
Since announcing this past summer its intention to remake Glen Cove hospital, NS-LIJ has moved Glen Cove’s Orthopedics Department, and its 120 employees to Syosset hospital. The hospital’s psychiatric unit will also be moved elsewhere. The full time staff which numbered about 900 employees in July (with an additional 400 part-time and per-diem workers), now stands at about 600.
Following Mayor Spinello’s introduction Wednesday evening, Mark Solazzo, the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the North Shore-LIJ Health System said that he wanted to assure the community that North Shore LIJ never had any intention of closing the hospital, but rather is seeking to make reforms to “better serve the community.” He later added that while some services like orthopedics had been moved to another facility, plans for the hospital are always evolving with the possibility of new or expanded services being provided there.
Jeff Kraut, senior Vice President for Strategy at North Shore-LIJ, offered a few reasons behind the health system’s decision to remake the hospital. He said that only about 50% of the residents in the surrounding areas who require in-patient services actually use Glen Cove, with many opting for other hospitals such as NS-LIJ Manhasset, St. Francis or Winthrop, and of those in the community needing surgery, 70% go elsewhere. In addition, he continued, transformations in the delivery of medicine have taken place. Because of benefits to the patient, advances in technology, and incentives created by the federal Affordable Care Act, the general movement in medical treatment is towards ambulatory rather than in-patient care, reducing the need for beds.
When pressed by Grace Slezack, President of the Glen Cove-North Shore Citizens Association, for a definition of “full service,” Dr. George Dunn, Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs at Glen Cove Hospital, said that “unfortunately there is no good definition” of full service and that while his answer may sound “fuzzy,” it’s important to distinguish between primary and secondary needs. He said that for the 25 most common diagnoses the hospital currently makes, Glen Cove would continue to provide services to address those needs. He added that there is a growing volume of senior citizens in the community, and that the hospital would be adapting to that change in demographics. Later in the evening he said that it is impossible to give an exact figure but that the facility "would have as many beds as the community needs." "As long as there is a North-Shore LIJ health system," he continued, "there will be a Glen Cove Hospital."
State Senator Carl Marcellino, who sat in the audience during the meeting, expressed some confusion over the officials’ comments and a bit of frustration with the way the process has played out. He said after reading the statement from Dr. Battinelli earlier in the day, it appeared that “the deal is done – everything is set,” but after listening to the remarks of hospital officials that evening, things still seemed to be in a “state of flux.” He thanked the officials for holding the meeting, but said that it should have been held at the start of the process, and that he and Assemblyman Charles Lavine had co-sponsored a bill that was recently introduced requiring such a meeting. Assemblyman Lavine spoke shortly afterwards, saying that the legislation would require the NYS Department of Health to hold a public meeting to discuss any changes that the hospital intends to make prior to their implementation.
Some in the audience raised concerns about what would happen to employees as services at the hospital are scaled back. Mr. Solazzo said that the system would find a place for all 500 employees who have been, or will be, affected by the transition, and that no one would lose a job. One gentleman in the audience questioned that assertion, saying that his wife had worked in the Dual Diagnosis unit, which had been shut down prior to last summer, and was still out of work. The hospital’s Executive Director Suzanne Kwiatek, said that procedures were not in place at the time to match employees with other positions within the system, and that the hospital learned from that experience to more effectively address placement needs for employees who would be affected by changes at Glen Cove Hospital.
Dr. Eric Hochberg, who sat at the dais with Mayor Spinello and hospital officials Wednesday evening, and who since the summer has been out-spoken in his opposition to some of the changes, in particular the transfer of the Orthopedics Department to Syosset, was optimistic after recent discussions with health system officials. He said that things have come a long way, and believes that North Shore LIJ is committed to continuing Glen Cove as a full service hospital. As far as in-patient services are concerned, he expected not much to change except for the psychiatric unit. He expressed confidence that the hospital would be “what a community hospital should be.”
Towards the end of the meeting, Dr. Andrea Kaplan, who works at the hospital and was sitting in the audience, made an impassioned appeal not to the health system’s officials, but rather to the roughly 100 members of the community who were in attendance. “North Shore wants to work with us,” she said. “We need you to work with us. We need you to support the hospital; we need you to support the services. We need you to tell everyone you know that if you go to Glen Cove Hospital, you will be taken excellent care of. One of the main reasons we will be able to survive is because you guys support us.”
The message was clear - use it or lose it.
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