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Glen Cove Hospital doctors vow to save beds

North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lynam said it will

North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lynam said it will keep some of the facility's beds at Glen Cove Hospital certified by the state health department so the medical provider wouldn't need to go through the certification process again if down the road it wanted to use them. (April 6, 2013) Credit: Ian J. Stark

Doctors have pledged to work to save inpatient beds at Glen Cove Hospital, although a hospital spokesman said there was little chance that would happen.

About 100 doctors met Thursday night at Glen Cove Mansion Hotel and Conference Center to discuss the decision by North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System to eliminate inpatient beds in January and turn the hospital into an ambulatory care center.

"The general consensus was that we would try to save Glen Cove Hospital," said Dr. Philip DeLuca, the immediate past president of the medical staff. "We're not saying that ambulatory care should not be expanded but this community requires and needs an inpatient hospital."

DeLuca said doctors would try to meet soon with North Shore-LIJ chief executive Michael Dowling and contact the state Department of Health, which would decertify the hospital's 265 beds.

The health system has said that inpatient volumes have been declining; the hospital's average daily census is 155, 83 of whom are medical-surgical patients from the community or from nursing homes, North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lynam said. The rest are rehab or psychiatric patients.

"We don't understand why all inpatient beds need to be closed," DeLuca said. "We could understand if you don't need all 265, but not all of the beds. This hospital is not in the red."

Lynam said the health system wanted to hear from doctors and residents about what services the new facility should offer but was not reconsidering keeping inpatient beds.

"We are going to continue to proceed with plans to convert the hospital into an ambulatory care center," he said.

He also said the hospital's current balance sheet was not the issue. "We haven't been pointing to financials as the reason the decision we're making is being made," he said. "We're projecting into the future."

The Affordable Care Act is changing the way that hospitals will be reimbursed, emphasizing preventive and ambulatory care over traditionally more expensive inpatient care.

Dr. George Dunn, who was the hospital's medical director for 13 years until he retired in December, disputed the health system's occupancy figure, which he said averaged around 70 percent.

"The best ambulatory care in the world is not going to get rid of the need for inpatient beds," he said. "We have an aging population and getting off of this peninsula can be very difficult."

Lynam said that concerns raised about treating Glen Cove's large senior population were being addressed. The emergency department would contain a "critical decision unit" with a geriatric specialist and observation beds to make sure that older patients were properly assessed, he said.