We Already Have The Best Ambulance Provider

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Dear Mayors Bral, Levy and Kalnick,

We are a nation of skeptics. As a civilized society, the accepted philosophy is to reward for excellent outcomes and a job well-done.

It is no secret that the media and the public look askance at the notion of elected leaders awarding contracts to individuals or companies that are not, in fact, up to par. So, how do you explain the Village of Great Neck, Saddle Rock and Kings Point government initiating negotiations with Northwell Health System, New York’s largest private employer and the nation’s 14th-largest health-care system, which consistently receives a C as a safety grade?

Would you trust your loved ones to dine out in a restaurant that received a C rating for safety standards? Northwell Health System in Manhasset and, in fact all of Long Island, has received a consistent independent Safety Grade of C by The Leapfrog Group. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is a public service provided by The Leapfrog Group, an independent nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety and transparency in the U.S. health system.

Is it wise to reward Northwell Health System with more of our business—our precious ambulance contract—or, do we, as a community, pressure Northwell to upgrade their level of services?

Northwell’s ambulance service is an extension of its hospital service. With an overall operating budget of $9.5 billion and more than 61,000 employees in New York State, perhaps the time is right for Northwell’s management to focus on improving from within—instead of expanding and diversifying patient services.

What happened to reward for excellent outcomes? What happened to reward for excellent service?

It is a common belief (and fear) among many Great Neck residents that Northwell has not been delivering excellent emergency or in-patient care as it should—and as we deserve. As a community, many of us are already dissatisfied with Northwell’s services.

I ask you again, do we, in good conscience, reward them with more of our community’s health-care business? Forget promises—we want results. Claiming to be the biggest isn’t always better. And the best there is happens to be sitting in our own backyard: Vigilant and Alert Volunteer Fire Departments.

Vigilant and Alert Fire Company responded in minutes when I telephoned them (directly) requesting emergency ambulance services in 2017. Looking back, I recognize that I was less than happy to require their services—but I couldn’t have been more appreciative of their responsiveness. The gentlemen who volunteer for Vigilant and Alert are passionate about protecting Great Neck residents because they are Great Neck residents themselves.

Every call of distress—at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m.—has the potential to be a friend or neighbor or the parent of a childhood friend they went to school with. There are personal connections and recognition in many instances. There is a special pride they possess as members of our community. This is not just a job; Great Neck is the place their children go to school. It’s the place where their extended families go to church and it’s where their children and grandchildren play soccer.

In the 20 years I have resided in Great Neck, I have been in awe of not only our volunteer firefighters’ excellent work ethic, but their children’s work ethic. As parents, our volunteer firefighters instill old-fashioned values and respect in their children at an early age. The offspring of Alert and Vigilant are the fabric of our community, coming to our rescue in matters large and small. Whatever tasks they perform, they perform with pride. And, I might add, without regard for money; they perform these services for the good of the community. These are the folks you want as your next door neighbors.

The Great Neck community is filled with generational stories of family members in crisis and Vigilant members showing up (as next door neighbors and medics)—even before the formal ambulance arrives on the scene. We are a diverse and ever-changing community, but having our own emergency ambulance service is one of those things that continue to make Great Neck great. This is what keeps long-term residents from relocating elsewhere. All of us need to recognize and value the gift we have of personalized emergency and ambulance services. It is something precious and we should work hard to protect and preserve it. There is no time to waste. Please show your support and act now.

Contact Mayor Bral at mayorbral@greatneckvillage.org, Mayor Levy at info@saddlerockny.gov and Mayor Kalnick at info@villageofkingspoint.org.

—Judy and Joseph Rosenthal

Read “Vigilant Calls For Public Meeting As Villages Consider Shift In Emergency Services To Northwell” and “Speak Out About Shift From Vigilant Ambulance At Village Board Meeting.”

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