Senator: Nys Health Department Is Neglecting The Urgent Health Needs Of Hudson Valley Residents

Thomas P. Morahan

March 20, 2006

Senator Thomas P. Morahanis urging the New York State Department of Health to change what appears to be a course of ‘benign neglect’ with respect to the health care needs of Hudson Valley residents.

In his first example of DOH neglect, the Senator, who represents Rockland County and a portion of Orange, noted that he has contacted NYS Health Commissioner Antonia Novello to protest her agency’s failure to fund an urgent request by the Rockland County Health Department seeking funding to identify and treat high risk individuals who may be infected with TB. With a reported rate of TB infection of 10.5 cases per 100,000 residents, the county’s rate of infection is among the highest in the state.

In a second instance, the Senator noted that while the NYS Department of Health had recently certified 40 designated Stroke Centers in New York City, only 2 had been certified in Rockland, and none in Orange County.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in this country. It is critical that one get to a hospital that is equipped to handle this kind of emergency. In some types of strokes, damage maybe reversed if treatment is started within three hours of the onset of the stroke.

"Residents of the Hudson Valley should expect the State Health Department to provide a basic health safety net to protect them from dangerous diseases or that can ensure them life-sustaining emergency health care treatment," said Morahan.

Morahan received wordthat NYS Department of Health officials had agreed to visit Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown to consider "designating them as a stroke center." In response the Senator noted: "It’s a step in the right direction, but because of the nature of the certification it still could take weeks for this hospital to be designated to receive a critically ill stroke patient."