Officials in the Northwell Health System recently announced a slate of changes to Glen Cove Hospital, including the removal of its cancer treatment facilities to other, more oncology-focused sites in the healthcare system.
By Nov. 23, the hospital’s Don Monte Cancer Center will have phased out its services, and its two medical oncologists will have transferred their practices — one to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, and the other to Huntington Hospital. Some of Glen Cove’s oncology equipment will be moved to the Imbert Cancer Center in Bay Shore.
“As cancer care gets increasingly complex,” Alexandra Zendrain, a spokeswoman for the health system’s eastern region, told the Guardian, “you really need a full medical team, including surgical and radiation oncology.” Moving cancer care resources to those other facilities, she said, would ensure that patients could have access to those teams in one place.
Carol Waldman, the executive director of the Glen Cove Senior Center, which serves seniors from around the North Shore, said that she was concerned about how the health system would handle patient transportation in the wake of the move. “Our medical transportation program is a city program that runs out of the senior center,” she said. It only provides access to the Glen Cove area, and so we’re concerned about how to get these people to Huntington and New Hyde Park.”
“A handful of people have already talked to me about it and expressed concern,” Waldman added. “Chemo leaving is very disappointing to us.”
She said that on Thursday, as the Guardian goes to press, she has a meeting with Susan Kwiatek, the executive director of Glen Cove Hospital, to discuss transportation. Kwiatek said that the health system’s “Cancer Service Line,” which helps patients navigate their care, will work with each of them individually.
According to Zendrian, the hospital’s approximately 100 cancer patients will have their care “actively managed.” As to whether they’ll be treated in Huntington or in New Hyde Park, “It’s really up to the patients,” she said. Kwiatek added that the cancer service line would discuss transportation issues with each patient.
Waldman said she was looking forward to partnering with Northwell to get her members to their appointments.
Amid the move, Glen Cove Hospital is expecting to spend several million dollars to expand other services — $4.6 million on a “family medicine” unit, essentially primary care; $450,000 on cosmetic upgrades to its inpatient rehab unit and $360,000 for an “accountable care” geriatric unit.
Accountable geriatric care, Kwiatek said, is basically a holistic approach to managing the health of seniors as they age. “It includes preventative care, managing the care in the hospital and optimizing the care at home,” she said, adding, “It coordinates the care across the continuum. You optimize outcomes and minimizes healthcare costs.”
The change is right for Glen Cove, she said, because of the area’s “aging demographic.” Those in need of geriatric care, she added, comprise “a large majority of the patients we serve.”
Waldman said that despite her concerns about moving cancer care to other facilities, she was happy to hear about the added emphasis on senior care. “If there are additional efforts going into geriatric care locally,” she said, “we embrace that effort. The health of our seniors really speaks to the health of our community.”
The renewed focus on eldercare runs parallel to Glen Cove Hospital’s efforts on physical therapy and rehab, domains in which Zendrian said, “they’re really already a destination hospital.”
Earlier this year, the hospital spent over $200,000 on a machine, called the G-EO, that helps patients re-learn how to walk after traumatic brain injuries like a stroke.
The hospital will also spend $3.3 million on a new cooling system.