To the Editor:
I would like to point out a couple of inaccuracies in George Capsis’ op-ed, “Can Saving Lives Be Profitable”? (Published October 2015)
He wrote that hospital managers came to the conclusion that old fashioned, open to everybody, 24-7 emergency rooms were too expensive, so they had to be eliminated and urgent care was invented in its place.
Well, call us old-fashioned, but the North Shore-LIJ Health System also believes that in the wake of St. Vincent’s hospital closing, the residents of the West Village deserve around-the-clock medical care that is open to everybody, regardless of their ability to pay.
That’s why we opened Lenox Health Greenwich Village in July 2014, Manhattan’s first free standing emergency department—
not an urgent care center as he inaccurately wrote, but a full service emergency department that provides care to all patients, regardless of their insurance status, and is staffed with board-certified emergency medicine physicians and specialty trained nurses.
Just like many other community hospitals, Lenox Health-Greenwich Village is equipped with advanced life support services and contains full service imaging capabilities, including a digital x-ray, computed tomography (CT), ultrasound and a full service emergency department lab. Having this critical resource available in the West Village could mean the difference between life and death for those experiencing a medical crisis.
And it already has made a difference. In the 15 months since we opened Lenox Health–Greenwich Village, we have treated over 30,000 patients. We have administered clot-busting medications to patients with strokes. We’ve provided critical care to hundreds of patients with heart failure, COPD, aneurysms, respiratory failure, pneumonia, influenza, diabetes, allergic reactions and more. We’ve sutured over 1,000 lacerations and we have cared for hundreds of psychiatric patients and thousands of patients with drug- or alcohol-related emergencies.
We have done this to rave reviews from the residents of the West Village. We put our patients first and keep them at the center of everything we do.
The death of security guard Idrissa Camera was indeed a tragedy. However, we truly have the utmost admiration and full faith in NYC’s emergency medicine service teams in the field. Sadly, Mr. Camara suffered a gunshot wound to the head—an almost uniformly fatal injury, regardless of the destination to which he was transported.
In the wake of St. Vincent’s closure in 2010, North Shore-LIJ President and CEO Michael Dowling had the vision and leadership to restore critical care health services in the West Village, investing more than $150 million to establish this neighborhood medical complex.
As you well know, in the aftermath of St. Vincent’s closure, no other health care provider stepped forward with a realistic proposal to meet the health needs of West Side residents. We’re proud of our medical facility, and we’re confident that the programs and services we are delivering there will meet the health and wellness needs of the local residents well into the future.
Executive Director, Lenox Health Greenwich Village
This letter is in response to the October 2015 article “Can Saving Lives Be Profitable?” The original article appears online at:
Urgent Care Limitations
The two of you are talking past each other. Your article mixed national problems (the closing of hospitals and emergency rooms, hospitals not knowing their true costs, etc) with an attack on Lenox Health Greenwich Village for not doing what we already know they can’t do. Neither they, nor any other free standing ER, or even a low level hospital attached ER, can replace a tertiary care hospital with a Level I trauma center like St. Vincent’s.
Your observations were accurate, but irrelevant for an ER, free standing or otherwise, that can’t make up for these national trends. Hellinger, on the other hand, is defending his ER for what it actually does, taking care of 95% of what they see. Nothing more, nothing less. He also points out that the West Village is better off with Lenox Health than with nothing at all, which would be the situation without them.
As far as the security guard who was shot, remember that the police officer recently shot in Harlem was taken to Harlem Hospital, with one of the best ERs in the city, and had the same lethal outcome. Free standing ERs, hospital affiliated ERs, and Level One trauma centers can only do so much, and sometimes it’s just not enough.
Alec Pruchnicki, M.D.
Good Urgent Care is Not Enough
My comments on the 7th Avenue and 13th Street medical facility—which has been recently renamed Lenox Health Greenwich Village to suggest, I suppose, it is the West Village extension of the Lenox Hill hospital on East 77th
Street—was not that it was not an excellent entry facility for urgent medical care. It is, and I have used it three times for that purpose and two of my visits ended in operations at the Lenox Hill Hospital.
However as Doctor Pruchnicki says in referring to your facility “Neither they, nor any other free standing ER, or even a low level hospital attached ER, can replace a tertiary care hospital with a Level I trauma center like St. Vincent’s.”
So it continues to be my goal to use the pages of WestView to campaign for the return of a Level 1 emergency room with a 24/7-staffed operating room that can save the life of a heart attack victim who may have only minutes to live, who knows Mr. Hellinger—it could be your life.
Publisher George Capsis