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Nassau officials launch online program to address medication shortage at Long Island hospitals

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (March 19, 2012)

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (March 19, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau officials are helping to address a shortage of medications in Long Island hospitals and ambulances, according to County Executive Edward Mangano.

He said he and the legislature’s Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) plan to unveil a new online program this week that could link local hospitals with the medications they need.

“To assist residents and local hospitals, the Presiding Officer and I directed the county IT Department to create this powerful tool for hospital pharmacists to communicate with other health care systems,” Mangano said in a statement. “With a few key strokes, these pharmacists can survey each facility and determine whether a particular drug is available.”

National health care experts have said that hundreds of drugs, including some for cancer treatment, have become scarce due to manufacturing and contamination issues, plant shutdowns, fewer manufacturers and lower profits. The shortage trickles down from hospitals to ambulances that transport patients.

The new program is a simplified drop-down menu system, where member pharmacists submit a request for the needed medication and dosage to the inboxes of pharmacy directors at 14 Long Island medical facilities. The facilities, in turn, respond with an “offer” or a “partial offer” or no response if they do not have the drug.

Brian Malone, director of pharmaceutical services at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, said the county’s IT application will "assist our hospital pharmacy directors with timely solutions dealing with the medication shortage.”

Marcelle Levy-Santora, administrator of pharmacy services at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, said, “Now we can communicate with each other instantly ... to share information on availability of medication.”

Participating hospitals include those in the North Shore-LIJ Health System and in Catholic Health Services, as well as NUMC, Winthrop, South Nassau Communities Hospital and Long Beach Medical Center, which has been closed since superstorm Sandy.

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