On April 29, the CB2 (Community Board for Manhattan District 2) and Susanna Aaron, Chair of the Social Services Committee, organized a special forum: Five years after the opening of Manhattan’s first stand-alone emergency room, how is our community engaging with Northwell’s Lenox Health Greenwich Village facility?
There was a full house in the classroom of the Little Red Schoolhouse on 6th Avenue. Besides CB2 members, panel participants included representatives from Lenox Health Greenwich Village—Alex Hellinger, Executive Director, Warren Licht, Peter Glennon, Director of Nursing Care, Dr. Ryan Levy, Director of Medicine, Francis Lee, head of the Emergency Department; Dr. Doug Isaacs, Medical Director for the FDNY, and Nancy Gilligan, EMS Division Commander (ambulance services), and Anna Allen, founder of Say-Ah.org, a not for profit specializing in teaching healthcare literacy.
The panel of reps did not get off easy; CB2 members and the public posed tough and critical questions and comments to the reps, including the EMT & FDNY reps. Although throughout the forum the audience voiced many stories of unfortunate service or long waits for ambulance transport, the panelists were open to hear complaints and promised to follow up with any complainant to answer their questions. They understand they are not perfect, and bad things can happen, but they are committed to better care.
Lenox Health Greenwich Village (the correct label for this facility, after many different names changes) reps said they are progressing toward better and more complete services in Greenwich Village. Recently, new doctors’ clinics opened in the 7th Avenue buildings; there is 24/7 psychiatric telehealth available at the facility. Details about ambulance service requests, and what medical protocol is followed, were discussed on how the destination is determined; the health and safety of the patient is the foremost concern, not cost or convenience.
A lot of questions were about billing and the unexpected and high cost of care and services, and the reps were clear that the professional care providers treat all equally and don’t even know what a patient may or may not be able to pay, since that is handled by a different department. Perhaps the obvious was stated when they advised the audience that it is very important that consumers of medical services should know what their Medicare or insurance plans actually cover, before needing services. Lenox Health has various plans for payment including ‘charity’ cases, or some with a sliding scale depending on ability to pay.
There were calls for a full Trauma Center here, and Medicare for All, and other changes that were beyond the scope of this forum. The lament for the loss of St. Vincents Hospital hung heavy in the room, but this too was beyond the power of anyone present.
CB2 asked for, and were promised, statistics about wait times, services and plans for future services. A follow-up forum on this topic is planned so that more information can be shared with the community.