The future of health care in Southwestern Brooklyn remains unclear, according to Joanne Seminara, the chair of Bay Ridge’s Community Board 10. In a recent Brooklyn Eagle piece, Seminara says it’s important for neighborhood leaders in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bensonhurst to prepare a course of action soon.
In a report to CB 10 at their March 19 meeting, Seminara brought up recent discussions with Bill Guarinello, chair of CB 11 in Bensonhurst. She informed board members that the two inter-neighborhood counterparts have been reviewing the types of medical facilities available to residents – especially in the context of the area’s future needs.
From the Eagle:
“We clearly need a strategic, multi-faceted plan for discerning community needs so we can advocate and build support for concrete goals,” Seminara told board members.
The discussions have included participation from elected officials like state Sen. Marty Golden and Assemblyman Peter Abbate, as well as representatives from the three medical facilities serving the area — Lutheran Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center, and the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate at Bay Ridge, a non-emergency clinic located at the site of the former Victory Memorial Hospital at 699 92nd St.
Victory Memorial Hospital had been closed by the New York State Department of Health in 2010, leaving Bay Ridge – and much of Southwestern Brooklyn – without an Emergency Room. Since then Community Boards 10 and 11, as well Abbate and Golden have joined forces to push for the return of emergency medical facilities.
Community leaders are also trying to reconcile the fight for a new Emergency Room with the future funding needs of the nearest two emergency medical facilities – Lutheran Medical Center [150 55th Street] in Sunset Park and Maimonides Medical Center [4802 10th Ave] in Borough Park. The next closest hospital – which is within the proximity of eastern Bensonhurst – Coney Island Hospital [2601 Ocean Parkway], doesn’t appear to have been discussed at length during the Bay Ridge meeting.
“The discussion prompted questions about how we can continue to expand emergency services and/or even develop a new medical center without compromising the efficient use and development, in terms of health and sophistication of service, at two of our premiere, local, developed hospitals, Lutheran Medical Center and Maimonides Medical Center — both of which are fighting to hang onto even more scarce dollars to expand what are known as ‘telemetry beds,’ or beds that accommodate placement in highly sophisticated, high-risk units,” Seminara said.
She also noted the significant changes expected to be brought about by the Affordable Care Act, the controversial health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, which the Supreme Court is expected to rule on by early June.
In anticipation of the new federal legislation, New York State has begun exploring options for redesigning Medicaid, a health care program for low income New Yorkers.
“We must look at our needs in light of the changes experienced by the Medicaid redesign formulas and the federal Affordable Care Act, with its focus on prevention, and community-based comprehensive service that can hopefully reduce emergency room visits,” Seminara said.