North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System officials say Glen Cove Hospital will remain a "full-service" hospital, even as the staff is cut by more than half.
Before a crowd of about 100 at a town-hall meeting in Glen Cove on Wednesday night, North Shore-LIJ chief operating officer Mark Solazzo said the changes at the hospital would "better serve the community."
"We've committed that there will be a full-service emergency room, inpatient bed capacity, ICU level care, surgery available at this hospital," Solazzo said following the meeting, adding, "If there's a patient that needs an inpatient bed, there will be a bed for that patient."
Solazzo said the staff would decrease to about 600 by the end of 2014 from 1,300 a year ago. Glen Cove hospital executive director Susan Kwiatek said they had already found jobs for 500 employees in other parts of the North Shore-LIJ system and would continue to hunt for jobs for those who had not been placed.
The definition of "full-service" was not resolved among the six speakers at the meeting convened by Mayor Reginald Spinello. News last summer that the hospital would convert to an ambulatory center spawned protests, legislative proposals and an ongoing lawsuit.
The hospital's orthopedic surgery department moved last week to Syosset. The health care provider has applied to the state to relocate its psychiatric unit and 18 psychiatric beds. It also plans to move its traumatic brain surgery unit, which will require state approval.
Urologist Eric Hochberg, who has been a vocal critic of the hospital's plans, said that talks with hospital officials in the past week had been encouraging. He said that independent physicians who work at the hospital but aren't employed by it will be able to provide "almost identical services going forward."
"We're still going to have what we refer to as a full-service hospital, which to me means we have an emergency room, med-surg [medical surgical] beds, we have 24-hour operating rooms and anesthesia capabilities, we have intensive care units and critical care units available," Hochberg said. "To the private practice physician, the hospital really is not going to look any different."
North Short-LIJ senior vice president for strategic planning Jeff Kraut said changes in the health care industry -- including technological advances that diminish the need for hospitalization for some medical procedures and economic disincentives that reduce or eliminate reimbursement for certain hospital stays -- were a reality facing community hospitals everywhere.
"The movement here is to move people outside of inpatient care," Kraut said. "There's ambulatory options that didn't exist a few years ago."
Kraut said that in 2003, Glen Cove Hospital averaged 200 to 207 inpatients and by 2013 that had declined to 148. That's a 26 percent to 28.5 percent decline.
Spinello said the meeting was a terrific start to addressing the community's concerns."It was eight months late, but at least the hospital was ready to step up to the plate," Spinello said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of urologist Eric Hochberg.