Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00
Over the last 25 years, although I suspect that many residents might be in denial on this point, the Nassau County that historian Edward Smits dubbed “Suburbia, USA” has become more urbanized; more Queens-like. We now discuss issues like crime, homelessness, taxes, and immigration in a manner that, prior to 1980, would have been seen largely as Big City concerns: concerns of places like Queens.
As goes Queens so goes Nassau and as removed as things in say, Flushing, might seem from places like Levittown, the fact is we can’t ignore them. This is especially true with respect to the health care of our citizens. Consider that in the past three years, using both public and private monies, the City of New York erected a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium in which the Mets baseball franchise can host its games.
This has occurred at the same time that three hospitals in Queens - Parkway Hospital, St. John’s, and Mary Immaculate - closed their doors. Like the ancient Romans, like many Third World countries, we can lavish ourselves with entertainment venues while our citizens lack something as basic as a hospital in their community. The overflow of patients from these hospitals is pouring into Flushing Hospital where, as of this writing, the nursing staff has been working without a contract since June 30, 2009 and are being asked to work more and more for less and less. (A national trend, by the way, which is why this country is facing a nursing shortage). Imagine this: a nurse on the job for 25 years, who may have even saved a few human lives along the way, will have earned less in that quarter century of hard work than an uneducated professional athlete might take home in a single season playing a children’s game.
This is certainly food for thought for the citizens of suburban Nassau. We seem to be moving forward - notwithstanding court tie-ups - in creating a new shopping mall, a new sports stadium, and a lighthouse miles inland in an age when ships navigate via satellite link-up. (OK, so it’s just a tacky faux lighthouse).
The Islanders might have a state-of-the-art place to play hockey in 2015. Will Nassau residents who are sick or have been in accidents have a place to go where they will receive state-of-the-art care - or will they be channeled into one of the last remaining hospitals in their area where an overwhelmed staff who are being asked to work more and more for less and less attempt to treat them?
The woes of Flushing and the nursing staff at Flushing Hospital might seem removed from the heart of Nassau County. But like I said before, as Queens goes, so goes Nassau.