Glen Cove rally opposes downsizing hospital
More than 500 people rallied in Glen Cove on Saturday to protest North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System's plan to convert the local hospital into an ambulatory center in January.
On a stage outside the city library, Mayor Ralph Suozzi said efforts by residents and politicians challenging the downsizing plan were having an impact.
"We're having an influence on the decision-making," he said. "But we don't need a pacifier like a child screaming. . . . We want a functioning hospital here so you can get medical care."
In a five-page letter to political leaders Friday, the health system's president and chief executive said "maintaining the hospital as-is has proved to be unsustainable."
Michael Dowling said the number of people seeking inpatient care at 265-bed Glen Cove Hospital has declined and much of the building isn't being used. North Shore-LIJ plans to continue offering emergency services while maintaining an unspecified number of beds depending on need.
Suozzi said he has met with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's representatives. "I would like to see the governor get more involved and take a stand," he said.
Cuomo's office referred a request for comment to the state Health Department, which said North Shore-LIJ has not yet submitted a conversion plan. The state would review such a plan to determine "whether it best serves the health, safety and needs of patients and residents," the department said.
City Councilman Reginald Spinello, who is running against the Democratic mayor on the Republican, Independence Party and Conservative lines, said the city needs to "try to minimize the impact" of the hospital changes.
David Kaplan, 59, a Glen Cove accountant, said the hospital saved his life last year when he had a bleeding ulcer. He said he wasn't in any condition to be taken to another hospital.
"I hope they leave it exactly the way it is," he said.
Another concern has been jobs leaving the community. North Shore-LIJ said it would find jobs for its employees.
Dr. Richard Wilson, a phlebotomist with North Shore-LIJ, said staff is being interviewed for other jobs within the health care system but not at Glen Cove.
"They're not offering us anything in the hospital," Wilson said. "They're just asking us where we want to go."