Bill would set up hearing on Glen Cove Hospital changes

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System's Glen Cove North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System's Glen Cove Hospital is shown on April 6, 2013. Photo Credit: Ian J. Stark

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Two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to subject North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System to a local hearing over plans to convert Glen Cove Hospital into an ambulatory center.

Hundreds protested in Glen Cove and Bayville last summer and fall over North Shore-LIJ's plan to convert the hospital, eliminate a large number of hospital beds and reduce the facility's staff. North Shore-LIJ, which employs 1,200 people at Glen Cove Hospital, has yet to fully elaborate on its plans, which has angered area residents and local leaders.

"I have been asking them for months to conduct a public hearing in the community and have waited and waited and have not heard back from them," said Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), who introduced the bill last month.

Lavine said that under state law a hearing would be required for the changes the health system wants to make, but the hearing could take place in Albany.

Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) introduced the bill in the Senate last week to force the hospital to submit to a hearing in the community.

"If the hospital is going to make severe changes to the hospital's functioning, then the community should be involved and should be informed," Marcellino said.

"It would be very important for the public to be able to hear directly from the leadership of NSLIJ as to what they have in mind, and it would be equally important for the leadership of NSLIJ to listen to the voices of concern of this community," Lavine said.

North Shore-LIJ spokesman Brian Mulligan declined to comment on whether there should be a local hearing on the health system's plans or on the proposed legislation. Mulligan declined to say how many jobs would be eliminated at the hospital, but said that some employees have accepted positions at the health system's other facilities.

"We are finding positions for the affected employees," Mulligan said.

The health system has not fully revealed its plans, though it has said it would move the traumatic brain unit, orthopedic surgery program, psychiatry program and inpatient physical rehabilitation program -- and the 103 beds that go with them. The building will be used for outpatient care for those not requiring overnight hospitalization.

The state health department is reviewing an application North Shore-LIJ submitted on Dec. 13 to decertify inpatient psychiatric services and 18 psychiatric beds.

Urologist Eric Hochberg, who is in private practice at Glen Cove Hospital, said he hopes a local hearing could help convince North Shore-LIJ to reconsider its plans.

"The members of the community and the local physicians feel very strongly that a full-service hospital is needed by the community," Hochberg said.

"It's a rather geographically isolated community, and to significantly limit the number of beds would have a negative effect on the medical care in the surrounding community," he added.

Glen Cove Mayor Reginald Spinello said he supported the lawmakers' efforts.

"It is very important for our community to have every opportunity to have input and to be heard regarding the hospital," Spinello said in a statement.

Richard Azzopardi, spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said the governor's office would review the legislation.

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