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Massapequa Park calls for a local hospital

Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna Jr. stands near

Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna Jr. stands near the former site of now-shuttered Brunswick Hospital Center in Amityville. (Dec. 23, 2011) Credit: Ed Betz

Massapequa Park and surrounding hamlets in southern Oyster Bay Town have been hurting for a hospital since an Amityville medical center closed six years ago.

"We want to bring at least an emergency room department or a small hospital to the Massapequas," said Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna Jr., who is leading the effort. "Our communities have been underserved for a long time."

Massapequa General Hospital in Seaford closed in 2000. Brunswick Hospital Center in Amityville shut its doors in 2005, leaving Massapequa-area residents to travel about eight miles to St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage, about nine miles to North Shore LIJ Health System's Plainview Hospital or about 18 miles to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.

"Good Sam is a long ride. Even with sirens and lights, it can be 10 or 12 minutes away depending on traffic on Sunrise Highway," said Peter Anglim, chief of the Massapequa Fire Department, which transports patients. The ride to any hospital "is a trip that could mean the difference between life and death," he said.

Altadonna said he has reached out to four hospital systems in the past four months about opening and operating a facility in the village or just outside its borders. He said he has several possible sites in mind, including a vacant village-owned property on Chestnut Street.

The mayor said he met last month with representatives of North Shore LIJ who this month are to explain to Massapequa-area officials what types of medical facilities they can offer. Options include an emergency department, an urgent care center for less-serious cases or a physician's practice.

"We recognize that there are concerns within the community about the local emergency care," said Terry Lynam, spokesman for North Shore LIJ.

Among other hospital systems Altadonna contacted, South Nassau Communities Hospital spokesman Damian Becker confirmed talks were at an exploratory stage. Good Samaritan spokeswoman Colleen Valdini said the hospital has no comment on the process.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said the type of facility and its location will depend on the hospital systems, which would carry the costs.

"They will come forward with a proposal, identify the nature of the facility and suggest to us what location is suitable," he said. "The Massapequas -- a heavily populated area -- is very underserved, especially in situations when minutes or seconds matter."

Fire chief Anglim suggested town and county officials work to open a new hospital at the Brunswick site. Firefighters, Anglim pointed out, can only transport patients to emergency department facilities that accept 911 calls -- not, for example, a physician's practice.

"Ninety percent of our calls are about getting the patient to the hospital," he said. "The closer the hospital is for us, the better it is for the patient."

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