Community activists from Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and in-between gathered at the site of the old Victory Memorial Hospital on Friday, March 8, calling on the State Health Department to re-open the now-shuttered emergency room.
Bill Guarinello, chair of Community Board 11; Joanne Seminara, chair of Community Board 10; Assemblymembers Peter Abbate and Alec Brook-Krasny; State Senator Marty Golden; Councilmembers Domenic Recchia and Vincent Gentile; a representative for Congressmember Michael Grimm; Renee Dorsa, president of the Bay Ridge Community Council; Eleanor Schiano, representing the Guild for Exceptional Children; members of BRAVO; and representatives from Asian and Jewish community groups braved a late winter snowstorm to make their voices heard.
Guarinello told this paper that, with the imminent closure of Long Island College Hospital, Southwest Brooklyn needs its own ER now more than ever.
When Victory was closed by the Department of Health and government officials, everyone got on the bandwagon and said, The residents wont be at risk, explained Guarinello, who was also on Victorys advisory board.
Guarinello said that the wait times in ERs at Lutheran Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center and Methodist Hospital have gone up by 100 percent since Hurricane Sandy hit. Coney Island Hospital was badly damaged by the storm, and is still largely closed, though its ER is now accepting some ambulances.
I am challenging anyone in the community to tell me that they have had a different experience in an ER when they brought a loved one there. Its worse than its ever been. Coney Island Hospital is still not open. Remember, Victory is not in a flood zone so that would be an ideal location, he said. We are saying that they need to put an ER back in this community, period. We are standing up for ourselves and holding everyone accountable.
Guarinello also said that the SUNY Downstate urgent care center at the old Victory site can be converted in a day to a fully functioning ER.
The Department of Health needs to stop playing with peoples lives down here, he said. Stop fooling around; we need an ER.
Abbate noted, Establishing an ER at the former Victory site would be a win-win for the community and for SUNY Downstate. They’re looking for a way to stabilize Downstate. An ER at Victory would a win for the community and a win for SUNY.
This paper is currently waiting for a request for comment from the Health Department.