Eastern Long Island Hospital will dedicate the emergency dock in...

Eastern Long Island Hospital will dedicate the emergency dock in honor of Salvatore Prato, a Greenport resident and key backer of the project. He died of cancer in November 2009, at age 66. (June 25, 2011) Credit: Randee Daddona

A lot of hospitals have helicopter pads so police and medical personnel can bring in accident victims in an emergency.

In Greenport, Eastern Long Island Hospital has an emergency dock.

It is used by boaters and the Coast Guard and was built in 2003 at a cost of $82,000, with money raised from nearly 500 people in the community. The cost was kept down thanks to 20 local contractors, who volunteered to work on the project.

On Thursday, the hospital will dedicate the emergency dock in honor of Salvatore Prato, a Greenport resident and key backer of the project. Prato ran a local security business and was also a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He died of cancer in November 2009, at age 66.

Paul J. Connor, hospital president, said Prato was "champion" of the dock project.

"As a waterfront community, marine access to emergency care can make a real difference to someone in distress," he added.

Hospital officials said the dock has been used dozens of times a year since its completion, for life-threatening situations and by boaters who break an arm or accidentally catch themselves on a fish hook.

The fixed dock also has a floating dock and a power lift, and boaters can radio police, who will alert the hospital that they are coming in. When a boat docks, an alarm automatically sounds, and there is a telephone to call the hospital's emergency room.

There is also a camera trained on the dock that is monitored by the hospital's emergency room staff, and the Greenport Volunteer Fire Department rescue boat is kept there to respond to emergencies, according to Ray Eble, Eastern Long Island's director of support services.

He said the local community realized the need to build a dock when, nearly a decade ago, a swimmer was in distress in Sterling Harbor, where the hospital is located.

Though a rescue boat picked up the swimmer, it could not get to the hospital. Instead, it had to go to an inn on the water, where a fire department ambulance was sent to pick up the swimmer.

The 90-bed hospital, the only one serving Long Island's North Fork communities, also has a helicopter pad, but officials said it is used more to transport patients to Stony Brook University Medical Center than to fly patients in.

It is the only hospital with a dock in Suffolk. In Nassau, Long Beach Medical Center -- also on the water -- has had a similar emergency dock for at least 30 years.

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