Urgent care facility to remain at St. Vincent's Hospital

April 27, 2010 3:24:51 PM PDT
As St. Vincent's takes its last gasp on Friday with the closure of its emergency room, an urgent care center will be waiting in the proverbial wings to fill the void. "This is a useful band-aid, but it's not comprehensive healthcare for the Westside," New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

Quinn insists urgent care is better than no care, but some doctors and nurses at the Greenwich Village fixture warn the community is being dangerously short-changed.

"When you go to an emergency room you have physicians and registered nurses on staff who have specialties that can take care of just about anything that walks through the door," nurse Eileen Dunn said.

Dr. Charles Carpati, head of St. Vincent's Intensive Care Unit, says not knowing the difference between urgent and emergent care could be life-threatening.

"Urgent care is when you bump your head. Emergent care is when you really slam your head. Or, if you have chest pain, or you're short of breath or you have trauma-you need emergent care not urgent care," Dr. Carpati said.

"It's gonna be incumbent on everyone to make sure people in the neighborhood understand what services are now available," Quinn said.

What services are not now readily accessible is what area residents are more focused on.

"It's not gonna be enough. We need to have a hospital with full services that are a part of that," Danny Stewart said.

Lenox Hill will initially operate from St. Vincent's main site, but will then seek to move the center to a permanent site in the neighborhood.

North Shore-Long Island Jewish medical center will operate round the clock ambulance service to transport patients in need of more serious care to nearby trauma centers.

Governor Paterson also announced $4.6 million to support expansion of services at four clinics that serve the St. Vincent's area.

Lenox Hill was chosen after the Department of Health issued a request for grant applications to run a self-sustaining urgent care clinic at St. Vincent's, which is preparing to shut down for good after filing for bankruptcy in 2005.