More than 100 North Shore residents, doctors and elected officials staged a rally in a Bayville church parking lot Sunday to protest North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System's plan to convert Glen Cove Hospital into an ambulatory center in January.
Administrators for North Shore, one of the nation's largest health-care systems, say the number of people seeking inpatient care at the 265-bed 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.
But protesters said the move would endanger the health of some 75,000 people who live in the area who would have to travel about 45 minutes to Manhasset Hospital or Nassau Community Medical Center for certain kinds of medical care.
Janet Phillips, 66, said her husband, Tom, 68, was alive after a 1993 heart attack because of Glen Cove Hospital. "If we didn't have the hospital, I don't think he'd be standing here," she said.
She was born at the hospital and gave birth to the couple's four children there, she said.
Her comments at the rally -- which attendees said was the third since the July announcement of the closure -- underscored the stakes for surrounding communities, which are emotional as well as practical and financial. The hospital employs 1,200, and some protesters said they feared for those jobs, though North Shore-LIJ has said it would find jobs for employees.
It also serves as a resource and source of referrals for many area doctors, who, some said, might otherwise leave or not be replaced as they retire. Dr. Eric Hochberg, a urologist with an office in the city of Glen Cove, who spoke at Sunday's event, said, "Fewer beds means fewer doctors."
The expected loss of some services, like the hospital's highly regarded orthopedic surgery unit, could eventually cripple the remaining facilities by cutting revenue and the number of patients it serves, making further reduction in service even more likely, he said.
Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi said attempts to meet with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state health officials had been unsuccessful and talks with North Shore-LIJ had "come to a dead end."