New statistics from the city Fire Department show that the closing of Victory Memorial Hospital would seriously jeopardize health in Bay Ridge, a group of lawmakers said last week.
Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Rep. Vito Fossella (R–Bay Ridge) said that FDNY data shows that the closest emergency rooms to Victory Memorial are already overcrowded —a direct contradiction of data that the state Department of Health used when it decided last year to close Victory Memorial’s emergency room.
The Department of Health says its data shows that two nearby hospitals, Lutheran Medical Center and Maimonides Medical Center, have the capacity to receive ambulances that are currently going to Victory.
But the FDNY records come to a different conclusion. From October to December, 2007 — the study period — Maimonides, Lutheran, and other neighboring facilities declared themselves unable to receive new ambulances for hundreds of hours.
Maimonides was “on diversion” approximately 1,100 hours, while Lutheran was “on diversion” nearly 700 hours.
“If these hospitals are out of room and Victory is closed, there is no other option but to wait,” said Gentile. “DOH can’t play a game of roulette with people’s lives.”
Lawmakers have been arguing that Bay Ridge residents rely heavily on the emergency room at Victory Memorial. The group sued the state last year, demanding that the ER remain open.
“Local hospitals are already overburdened and will have a difficult time caring for an additional 17,000 patients who use Victory’s ER every year,” said Fossella.
But Claudia Hutton, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health, disputed the FDNY data. “The Fire Department doesn’t use the same information that we use in calculating diversion,” she said.
Hutton said the Department of Health’s numbers are more accurate because they come directly from the hospital. She also said the state would continue with its plan to shutter Victory.
“We see Victory closing in June,” she said.
But Victory’s supporters refuse to give in.
“This compelling new data … makes the strongest case possible for keeping the ER open at the Victory site,” said Fossella.