Nassau County is making a pitch to have Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola designated the sole regional poison control center in the downstate region, providing services for New York City and other suburbs.
Gov. David A. Paterson has proposed saving money by eliminating regional poison control centers in Mineola, Rochester and Buffalo, and keeping the centers in New York City and Syracuse. Under the state plan, calls to the Long Island Regional Poison & Drug Information Center at Winthrop, which handles 50,000 annual hotline calls a year, would be routed to Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, which now handles 70,000 calls annually.
Top Nassau officials sent a letter Wednesday to members of the state legislative delegation from Long Island asking them to intervene on behalf of Winthrop, which has been serving as the regional center for Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties for 53 years.
Nassau officials said they were in some respects a more suitable site than New York City, since emergency response planner try to locate crisis centers away from the center of where a disaster might occur. Mineola is a "prime location near, but away from terrorist epicenters in NYC," county officials said.
"It is our hope that [it] will be the new Downstate Regional Poison Center for New York State, supporting and educating our state residents as it has done and will do, especially during a bioterrorism or chemical threat," county officials said.
The letter to lawmakers was signed by County Executive Edward Mangano; Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, the county health commissioner and John Collins, Winthrop's president.
Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) said that within "moments" of getting the county's letter he forwarded it to the governor and said he fully supported the move.
New York City health officials said they had no comment, and the governor's press office did not return telephone calls for comment.