Featured Letter: Proximity is everything in hospital mergers

To the editor:

In your April 2 issue, John Kanas makes a rather remarkable but easily contested statement: “North Shore [LIJ] provides the best care on the East Coast.” U.S. News and World Report Health provides national and regional ratings that suggest otherwise. 

Has Mr. Kanas not heard of the really amazing research, teaching and care undertaken at other East Coast august institutions: Boston’s Massachusetts General (with 16 nationally rated specialties), New York Presbyterian (with 15), NYU Langone (with 13), Mt. Sinai (with 10), Hackensack University (with 10), Penn Presbyterian (with 13) Johns Hopkins (with 15). It goes on.

Guess what? North Shore has only one national and LIJ none.

Recently, my spouse required cardiac surgery recommended by Thomas Falco, our excellent cardiologist at ELIH, whose practice is now joined with Winthrop Medical Center in Mineola, 82 miles from Orient. Showing up on time meant having to take a hotel room the night before for the two of us and one the night after for me alone. One of the many reasons Stony Brook should be chosen to partner with ELIH rather than North Shore/LIJ is the difference in distance, Stony Brook being only 54 miles from our home rather than 82. Those making decisions about an inevitable merger must consider that the demographics of the North Shore and Shelter Island show a fast-growing senior population, the very ones who find it least easy to travel long distances or incur more financial expenses to get proper care. Years ago, I needed a serious cervical fusion operation and luckily found the head of spine and neck surgery at Stony Brook, Dr. Raphael Davis, who performed the complicated procedure successfully. Recently, ELIH has had the good fortune to have Dr. Davis come there to do his most skillful work. So there is already a working link between the two institutions.

PBMC’s decision to join with North Shore/LIJ may be more defensible because their presumed patient population is at least 35 miles closer. I agree with Senator Ken LaValle. Most seniors would prefer ELIH’s affiliation to stay in Suffolk. I suspect that young families with children would also prefer a more convenient facility.

I hope Paul Connor lll and the administration at ELIH will choose Stony Brook.

Edwin Blesch Jr., Orient