Pop-up medical clinic opens in Cherry Grove for the summer

Edward Fraser, Regional Director of Community Services, hangs Edward Fraser, Regional Director of Community Services, hangs a flag outside of the new LIJ-North Shore urgent care facility that's temporarily established in Cherry Grove for the summer, on May 21, 2014. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The newest addition to the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group empire is a cozy bungalow in Cherry Grove named Belly Acres.

There, the medical group is opening a pop-up immediate care clinic in the Fire Island community for the first time, after a successful run in Ocean Beach last summer.

Both clinics open Sunday and will run through Labor Day weekend.

The clinics are a marketing endeavor, with hopes that patients stay within the North Shore-LIJ system after they leave Fire Island, as well as a public service to the communities' summer residents and visitors, hospital officials said.

"You do it for the community," said Edward Fraser, North Shore-LIJ's regional director of community services and a summer resident of Cherry Grove.

Fraser estimated that the cost of rent and supplies for the summer months will run about $50,000 per clinic -- and that's not including the salaries of the doctors who staff the facilities a week at a time. The clinic will charge for services.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"There will be a new doctor or nurse practitioner every week," he said. The visiting medical professionals are welcome to bring their families to stay the week in Cherry Grove or Ocean Beach in provided housing.

The clinics will be open two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. The rest of the time, doctors staying in the community will remain on-call, even if they are at the beach -- they will plant a flag emblazoned with a red cross in the sand to let beachgoers know where to find medical help.

The medical presence in Cherry Grove dates back to the 1940s, with local dentist Elmer Lindsay setting up a first aid station. When he died, the community built Belly Acres in his memory in 1955 to house visiting doctors on an ad hoc basis, said Joanne Tavis, president of the Elmer Lindsay Memorial Fund.

@Newsday

Finding doctors on a consistent basis and keeping the clinic open every summer was a challenge, she said. Given Cherry Grove's location and demographics, Tavis said having a medical clinic was important instead of sending people off-island on a 30-minute ferry ride to Sayville.

"We do have a very large aging population, and we need to take care of the elders," she said.

Five people died of heart attacks last summer in Cherry Grove, Fraser said.

He said the clinic was poised to assist people dealing with medical issues typical in the summer months, from jellyfish stings and cuts to ticks to poison ivy rashes.

Dr. Robert Korn, director of emergency medicine at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, plans to spend the week of July Fourth manning the Ocean Beach clinic.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The summer's biggest dangers "start with the sun, and then when you add alcohol and motor sports to that you have a very deadly combination," Korn said.

He said beachgoers should be wary of sun exposure "for two reasons: your skin is sensitive to sunlight and responds by burning anything after a half an hour dose . . . The heat also causes increased water loss, and you become dehydrated by sweating."

He added that summer fun is different from activities at other times of the year. "In the summer you have people doing activities they didn't do all winter -- they might be doing sports in the heat and drinking alcohol, which increases your water loss. You get dehydrated faster when you're drinking," he said.

The very young and the seniors need to be more careful in the sun, Korn said. "Small children and the elderly are more susceptible to this because they have fewer protective mechanisms."

You also may be interested in: