Lawmakers Reveal Flawed Data Used In Decision To Close Hospital

Martin J. Golden

March 05, 2008

Gentile, Golden and Fossella Reveal State DOH

Used Flawed Data In Decision to Close Victory Memorial Hospital

Council Member Vincent Gentile, Senator Marty Golden and Congressman Vito Fossella have obtained information that directly contradicts internal State Department of Health (D.O.H.) data used to make the decision to close Victory Memorial Hospital's Emergency Room.

Councilman Gentile used his oversight jurisdiction to obtain true emergency room diversion numbers from the FDNY that proves that the closest emergency rooms to Victory Memorial Hospital are overcrowded with patients, which calls into question the initial data used by the State DOH in its decision.

DOH's decision was based upon Lutheran Medical Center and Maimonides Medical Center having the capacity to take on the excess patients that would no longer be served by a closed Victory Memorial. However, DOH was provided with inaccurate information, according to Gentile who, along with his colleagues, contends closing Victory based on this incorrect information places a significant risk to the health and safety of the people in the neighborhood.

Through an Article 78 proceeding, filed by Gentile, Golden and Fossella in December, DOH provided the lawmakers with the information it used to decide to close the emergency room at Victory Memorial. This data showed that, from October to December, Lutheran Medical Center had very few diversions, while Maimonides Medical Center had none.

But data requested by Gentile from the FDNY indicates that over the same three-month period Maimonides, Lutheran, and other neighboring facilities spent thousands of hours on diversion. According to the FDNY stats, Maimonides was on diversion approximately 1100 hours, while Lutheran was on diversion nearly 700 hours. Other neighboring hospitals also reported large diversion numbers, according to the FDNY statistics.

In an effort to reverse the DOH's decision, Gentile, Golden and Fossella have asked DOH Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. to reevaluate the impact that the closure of Victory Memorial Hospital's Emergency Room will have on the surrounding community. This latest revelation brings into question the information upon which the Department of Health made its decision, which according to lawmakers, tells a much different story than that told by the original data, and one that should lead to a much different conclusion.

Councilman Gentile said, "The numbers are extremely important. We need Commissioner Daines to understand that until Lutheran and Maimonides improve their capacities to see patients, there is still a dire need for emergency room services at Victory. Lutheran and Maimonides are packed and there is no room at the inn. We've heard the stories of people being left in the hallways for days on end before they get into beds. In emergency medicine there is a golden hour in treatment that could drastically improve a patient's condition. If these hospitals are out of room and Victory is closed there is no other option but to wait. DOH can't play a game of roulette with people's lives."

Senator Marty Golden stated, "These numbers confirm what my colleagues and I, on behalf of all in our community, have been saying. Closing the emergency room at the Victory Memorial Hospital site endangers the health and safety of all. The surrounding hospitals can not handle additional emergencies if they are full to and above capacity now. Imagine without Victory --clearly if the Health Department proceeds with this, it will endanger all citizens of southwest Brooklyn."

Fossella said, "This data confirms what we have said from the very beginning – local hospitals are already overburdened and will have a difficult time caring for an additional 17,000 patients who use Victory's ER every year. This compelling new data, along with the State's decision to allow an ER to remain open at Dobbs Ferry, makes the strongest case possible for keeping the ER open at the Victory site. The State can no longer justify its decision to close the ER at Victory. We have asked the State to conduct an immediate review of this new data and take the necessary steps to ensure ER services remain available at the Victory site."