2004-06-04 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter


After a cruel winter, the Memorial Day weekend was the much welcomed commencement of the "fun in the sun" season. The season is the reason why so many of us choose to live by the ocean, fall asleep to its lullaby, surf, and enjoy many endless summer activities. Whether it’s a barbecue or a tandem "hang 10" on Richie Allen Beach, a round of golf at Riis Park or a sunset cruise from Riis Landing, a consequence of summer fun is that accidents do and can happen on any given day around our town.

Perhaps you’ve seen that grandparent who has fallen faint maneuvering that shopping cart in the sweltering noon-day sun, or that meandering child on the beach who stepped on a rusty nail attached to a piece of driftwood, or that seemingly fit 60 year old who had swung well on the "front nine" only to collapse from a stroke. 911 is called and dispatched to the nearest Emergency Room. Fortunately for us, that ER is located within the finest community hospital.

Peninsula Hospital Center recently completed its modernization project of the Department of Emergency Services. On a recent visit, for this piece, I was given a grand tour by PHC President and CEO Robert Levine who enthusiastically dashed about showing me all that has been accomplished and proudly introducing me to the individuals who make it work; the names behind the faces of those whom we later wish we could thank for our exceptional care.

While the ER is usually located at the back of the hospital, due to HMOs and managed care it has become the "front door" thru which we enter the hospital. Even the Admitting office has been moved to the ER wing. With an ever-increasing rise in our population, it was important to expand, enhance, renovate, and increase the size and scope of the ER. Designed internally with the input by staff, Doctors, Nurses, Support Personnel, Technicians, Security, and those who run the ER, the project began two years ago. Since you can’t close the ER, construction areas had to be cordon-ed off and maneuvered in stages. The approximate $800 thousand dollar cost was made possible by the overwhelming generosity of the Eisenstadt family who, along with other members of the Board of Directors, were the underwriters of the project.

From the moment you walk thru the enclosed foyer and enter the waiting area, the improvements are clearly visible. Aside from cosmetic enhancements like new seating, flooring, and soothing color scheme with seascape artwork by local artists, the entire design and configuration exudes Patient respect. There is a separate waiting area for Pediatrics (Angels on-the-Bay, private registration areas to protect patient confidentiality, a new Triage where the care of the more seriously ill can be more efficiently expedited, and there is even a new monitoring system so that patients feel more secure.
  The ER staging area itself is a complex highly charged theater where split-second decisions are made by the combined forces of varied medical disciplines. "It’s a lot like the TV series ER, but without the romance!", states PHC President and CEO Bob Levine. According to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Peter Galvin, who is the current Interim ER Medical Director, "We
proud of the fact that we have been chosen by the NYS Department of Health as a designated Stoke Center which means that if a patient shows signs of a stroke, the ambulance notifies the ER and the stroke team is immediately activated. This is crucial when time is of the essence." For urgent airlift transport, PHC boasts a FDA-approved Helipad, only one of its kind in the area. There is even free parking!

Other enhancements to the ER include expanded beds in the holding area, a separate child-friendly Pediatric area with new cribs, a new Nursing Station that is more visible to patients enabling them to feel more secure, and a Pyxix system where meds are on-site and readily available. "I tell my staff that anyone of us could be the next patient and that we treat as we would expect to be treated.", states Vicky Bachus, ER Managing Nurse Director. "These recent enhancements help facilitate our ability to deliver the best possible care to the community."

"Community" is the key word and PHC is perhaps the most quintessential of its kind. "I know you! We’ve had our nails done together!", states Margaret Mammes,RN. The fact that so many staff live here is perhaps the most endearing quality of PHC. You will see Bob Levine, who grew up here and whose mother and sister live here, cheering at our St. Patrick’s Parade. You do see Vicky Bachus or Janet McGowan at the market or Dr. Galvin playing his Bagpipes on the beach. And Liz Sulik? She’s everywhere! That’s the beauty of OUR hospital.
 With its bi-annual publication, Coastlines, seminars, free stroke screening, and the Family Health Fair on June 5, PHC is always striving to include and inform the community. Either through its expanded Benefactors Club or simply by volunteering, there are many ways to be part of the PHC family. Bob Levine showed me an article in Newsday about Jack Schulman, a 91 year old local who was named Newsday’s Hero for his volunteer work at the hospital for the past 14 years!

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