Congressman Tom Suozzi and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael Dowling on Monday, Nov. 30, announced the creation of the first Geriatric Center for Excellence at Glen Cove Hospital.
The Geriatric Center for Excellence will serve as a national model for geriatric care and community coordination.
Glen Cove Hospital, located at 101 St. Andrews Ln., will be equipped to work alongside the local community to provide care to seniors, partner with assisted living facilities, nursing homes and the Glen Cove Senior Center, and to attract the country’s top professionals and best practices.
“Caring for our older adults is a big responsibility, one that we take great pride in,” Dowling said. “Our aging population will face health issues that require the right care at the right time which is why we have increased our services including at Glen Cove Hospital. This recognition is humbling and a true testament to the exceptional care we are providing our elders.”
Suozzi, who served as mayor of Glen Cove in 1994, said he first spoke about the creation of a Geriatric Center at the hospital with Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, Northwell’s chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine, who formerly served as commissioner of health in his administration.
“For years, building the Glen Cove Hospital into a premiere facility has been a goal of our community,” Suozzi said. “Today, achieving that goal took a big step forward.”
According to Suozzi, there were conversations about possibly shutting down the hospital five years ago. It has three nursing homes, three assisted living facilities, multiple senior citizen complexes, a senior center and groups in the community focused on senior citizen issues.
From a personal perspective, Suozzi has long supported the hospital where he and his children were born, he said. It’s also where his mother worked as an operating nurse, and his father served on the board of directors before becoming mayor of Glen Cove.
Having grown up with all four of his grandparents — three of whom were sick — living at his home, and the passing of his parents at the ages of 93 and 95, Suozzi said he has always been intimately familiar with senior healthcare needs.
“I brought my parents to the hospital when they were elderly, and it’s very overwhelming. If they didn’t have me or my brothers or sister helping, I can see them being easily overwhelmed,” Suozzi said.
The new Geriatric Center for Excellence, Suozzi said, will help to provide a model for what is needed to help senior citizens navigate the difficult challenges that they face in their lives, entering into a hospital setting when they’re scared, afraid and, sometimes, alone.
Ron Panzok, 66, a resident of Fresh Meadows, who recovered from COVID-19, attested to the care he received from Northwell Health’s team of medical professionals, who helped him every step of the way.
“I had a very good experience there. I couldn’t walk or lift my left arm and they brought me back,” said Panzok, who is left-handed and had severe illness on the left side of his body.
In March, Panzok had spent five weeks in a COVID coma at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, and then another two weeks at the hospital before he was transferred to Glen Cove Hospital for two weeks of rehabilitation.
According to Panzok’s wife, Bonnie, the doctors encouraged him, saying that his left side would improve and he would start walking again.
“He did so well, that they asked him to go into another patient’s room, who was feeling really depressed, and to tell him his story and to show that he could get better, too,” Bonnie said. “That shows Glen Cove is really interested in doing whatever they can to help their patients physically and mentally, too.”
Panzok is now walking with a cane and is doing much better. He is looking forward to celebrating Hanukkah.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the center at Glen Cove Hospital comes as Northwell Health is recognized as an age-friendly health system by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the John A. Hartford Foundation.
This recognition will help build upon the Parkinson’s treatment center, rehabilitation center and brain injury center already established at the hospital.
Kerri Scanlon, RN, Glen Cove Hospital’s executive director, said they have developed proficiencies in care for older adults starting from the moment they enter the hospital, and have built vital connections to the community that provides a continuum of care post-discharge.
“Our revolutionary Parkinson’s rehabilitation disease program is another facet that helps people grow older with dignity and a focus on preserving their independence and quality of life,” Scanlon said.
Among some of the steps that Northwell has taken to earn the recognition is having all its emergency departments achieve geriatric emergency department accreditation through the American College of Emergency Physicians, providing falls prevention education and bringing together multi-disciplinary co-management teams to provide the best management of people with hip fractures.
Additionally, Northwell has developed a dementia memory care program through the University of California in Los Angeles, which incorporates neurologists and psychologists and aims to help families understand the stages of this disease and how to manage their loved one’s mood.
Northwell Health and Zucker School of Medicine have expanded its specialized fellowship training opportunities in geriatrics and palliative medicine in order to further educate the next generation of physicians. Glen Cove Hospital is in the process of building a caregiver center with the help of $400,000 from the Glen Cove Hospital advisory council-run annual appeal.
Carney said Northwell Health has been steadily and thoughtfully adding services and protocols over the last several years to provide expert and improved care for older adults.
“We aim to promote longevity, safety and independence for a person as they face a challenging aspect of life and as needs evolve across a lifespan. I am proud of Northwell for all of its effort to provide the best care possible for this population,” Carney said.