Fossella, Golden & Gentile to Paterson: Save ER at Victory Hospital
Lawmakers Send Letter to New Governor Urging Reevaluation of Closure Plan
[Brooklyn, NY] – Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13), Senator Marty Golden and Councilman Vincent Gentile are urging new Governor David Paterson to review the decision to close the emergency room at Victory Memorial Hospital in light of conflicting data on the number of diversions at area hospitals.
In a letter to Paterson, the lawmakers warned that the State Department of Health (DOH) may have used faulty diversion data to justify closing the ER at Victory, which could endanger the health and well-being of residents of southwest Brooklyn.
In February, the lawmakers released data obtained from the New York City Fire Department that showed Maimonides was on diversion approximately 1,100 hours while Lutheran was on diversion nearly 700 hours. The State DOH data used data which showed that Lutheran Medical Center had very few diversions while Maimonides Medical Center had none.
The lawmakers also told Paterson that the State DOH’s recent decision to maintain emergency and primary care at the Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry, which was also slated for closure under the Berger Commission, opens the door for developing a similar plan at Victory Hospital.
Fossella said, "We are asking Governor Paterson to intervene and stop the State from moving forward with this unwise and unsafe plan. The State has turned a deaf ear to our pleas for months, but the elevation of Governor Paterson raises the possibility for a reevaluation of the plan to close the ER at Victory. We have laid out for Governor Paterson the details for maintaining ER and acute care services at the site. We are encouraging him to review the data and act in the best interest of the people of southwest Brooklyn."
Golden said, "I continue to urge Governor Paterson to make the future of healthcare in Southwest Brooklyn a priority at this early stage of his tenure as the executive of New York State. It is imperative that the Governor personally evaluate the decision to close the emergency room at Victory Memorial Hospital, which will threaten the delivery of medical care in Southwest Brooklyn. The Governor must understand that the decision to close the emergency room is dangerous and will endanger the health and safety of all in the community."
Councilman Gentile said, "It is our hope that Gov. Paterson will review the FNDY stats and take the appropriate steps to keep Victory’s emergency room care facility open. New leadership in Albany could translate into new life at Victory. The numbers clearly illustrate that until Lutheran and Maimonides improve their capacities to see patients, there is still a dire need for emergency room services at Victory."
A copy of the Fossella/Golden/Gentile Letter to Governor Paterson:
Hon. David Paterson
New York State
The Executive Chamber
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Governor Paterson:
First, we would like to congratulate and wish you well as the new Governor of our state. Today, we write to you regarding an urgent crisis facing the residents of Southwest Brooklyn. Specifically, we have long made the argument that removing Emergency Room services from the Victory Memorial Hospital site would be a significant risk to the health and safety of the people in our communities. Recent experience has shown us that Victory’s diminished ER service over the last few months has already put an enormous strain on other local emergency rooms, including Lutheran Medical Center and Maimonides Medical Center.
We hope, as our new Governor, you will review the State’s decision to close the emergency room at the site, which is responsible for 17,000 patient visits annually. As part of that review, we’d like to draw your attention to the possibility that faulty diversion data may have been used by the State Department of Health (DOH) to justify the closing of the ER at Victory.
Specifically, as part of the Article 78 proceeding we initiated in December, we requested that the Department of Health provide us with the information it used to recommend closing the emergency room at Victory Memorial Hospital. This data showed that, from October 1 to December 26 in 2007, Lutheran Medical Center had very few diversions, while Maimonides Medical Center had none. Knowing as we do the dangerous ramifications of hospital diversions in the area, it seemed odd that Victory’s two closest neighbors had spent such little time on diversion in this three-month period.
Furthermore, the data did not correspond with the many horror stories we had heard of people waiting in hallways to be admitted to local emergency rooms. Last month, data we obtained from the New York City Fire Department showed Maimonides was on diversion approximately 1100 hours, while Lutheran was on diversion nearly 700 hours. Other neighboring hospitals also reported a large number of diversions, according to the FDNY statistics. This, along with anecdotal evidence, brings into question the validity of the data used by the Department of Health to make its decision.
Lastly, we ask that you reconsider the closure of the ER at Victory in light of the State DOH's recent decision to maintain emergency and primary care at the Community Hospital at Dobbs Ferry, which was also slated for closure under the Berger Commission. We believe that the needs in southwest Brooklyn make a more compelling case for maintaining services than at Dobbs Ferry, which will house a new emergency room and primary care facility operated by St. John’s Riverside after the hospital closes later this year. The State said it established a new "hybrid model" for Dobbs Ferry, which is designed for communities that don’t necessarily require a full-service hospital but need a combination of emergency care and ambulatory care. This is exactly the type of hybrid model we have been advocating for at Brooklyn's Victory Memorial site.
Once again, we ask that you review the decision to close the emergency room at Victory Memorial Hospital and hope for a new and fresh perspective by your Administration in order to avert a public health crisis in southwest Brooklyn.
Congressman Vito Fossella, Senator Martin Golden andCouncilman Vincent Gentile