Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 27 January 2012 00:00
When Brunswick Hospital in Amityville closed three years ago, it left the Massapequa area in dire need of a having a nearby hospital that could treat, above all others, those patients in need of emergency care.
But that situation may be changing so, as the village officials are working with the Town of Oyster Bay, the offices of State Senator Charles Fuschillo (R.-Merrick) and two other hospitals to construct such a facility in the village.
Both North Shore LIJ and Catholic Health Services are interested in expanding to Massapequa, Mayor James Altadonna, Jr. told the Massapequan Observer. Both institutions, he said, are doing due diligence studies and the village may receive prospects from both hospitals in the next few weeks.
“Both realize there is a need [for a hospital],” Mayor Altadonna added.
The mayor said the recommendations by the Bergen Commission to close certain hospitals, including Brunswick, has put village residents at certain health risks. It is cases concerning heart attacks and other life-threatening situations “that is of the essence,” the mayor said. For now, the closest nearby hospitals that cater to urgent needs are Good Samaritan in Babylon and St. Joseph’s in Hempstead. But that may not be good enough for urgent-need patients in Massapequa and so the negotiations are going forward.
The hospital village officials would like to see constructed in Massapequa would include an emergency room, an urgent care facility, and one equipped with the latest in diagnosis technology. Mayor Altadonna said there were a “few locations” in the village that are suitable for such a hospital, but it would be up to the individual hospitals to decide where to construct. “This has to do with the willingness of the hospital to come up with a viable proposal,” he said.
Above all, the village, Mayor Altadonna added, is looking for a long-term commitment from the hospitals in question, namely a hospital that is willing to have a long-term partnership with the village in making such a hospital a long running success. The next discussions, the mayor said, will happen when the hospitals come up with their proposals.
Mayor Altadonna so far is pleased with negotiations the village has had with the Town of Oyster Bay, with Senator Fuschillo’s office, and with the two hospitals. “There has not been one negative,” he said, noting that all parties recognize the “absolute need” for an urgent care facility in Massapequa.
What also is needed, the mayor added, is for state officials to recognize that same need, as village officials will need certain state permits to proceed. But for now, village officials are waiting for the proposals from both North Shore and Catholic Hospitals.
Both local officials and spokesmen for both hospitals weighed in on the mayor’s ideas.
“The Massapequas are heavily populated and are very underserved in terms of local emergency medical care, especially in situations when minutes or seconds are critical,” said Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. “With no hospital in the Massapequas, any sort of urgent care or emergency facility would be a very welcome.”
“We’re working collaboratively with local village leadership to address the healthcare needs of the community,” said Mark Solazzo, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
State Senator Charles Fuschillo hailed Mayor Altadonna for being “on the right track” with the hospital plan. He said that the mayor had asked him to help the village with securing a new urgent care facility, one that Senator Fuschillo also agrees is needed for the village. “I do support the initiative,” he said.
“Good Samaritan and St. Joseph hospitals, both members Catholic Health Services (CHS), have been proud to serve the residents of Massapequa and Massapequa Park over the years,” added Chris Hendriks, CHS spokesman. “CHS hopes to continue to provide quality services such as pediatric emergency medicine, cardiology, cancer care, orthopedics, spine surgery and more. CHS representatives have met with Mayor Altadonna and are excited about exploring the feasibility of extending services to a new, freestanding emergency department for the benefit of the nearby communities.”