Methodist Hospital beefs up staff amid ER concerns

Methodist Hospital beefs up staff amid ER concerns
The Brooklyn Paper / Allyse Pulliam

New York Methodist Hospital says it will hire new pediatric nurse practitioners and treat patients faster in its emergency rooms amid an online outcry from some Park Slope residents.

In January, the Seventh Avenue hospital will hire three new pediatric nurse practitioners to expedite patients’ treatments, Robert Van Amerongen, the hospital’s chief of pediatric emergency medicine, told The Brooklyn Paper.

In addition, ER workers will be better trained to alert nurses if the condition of someone in the waiting room is worsening, added Mia Scaramuzzino, the director of nursing for emergency services.

Both changes come in response to more than a dozen comments posted on the Park Slope Parents Web site. The posters claimed that the hospital’s emergency rooms, which have treated 70,000 patients so far this year, make patients wait for hours, even if a patient’s condition is declining.

“I wouldn’t go back to that place on a bet,” posted one Park Slope Parents member. “Unfortunately, if you are unconscious, it is the closest place and where the ambulance will take you. My nanny is under strict instructions not to take my son there.”

Another poster said her 2-year-old son fell in the park and required stitches in his mouth, but he had to wait for hours in the emergency room — still bleeding from the cuts.

“The registration was hell and the woman doing it took her sweet time,” the woman wrote. “I just ended up being super pushy and [threatened to] go somewhere else.”

The operators of the Park Slope Parents site collected and forwarded the posts to the hospital, asking for improvements. The letter was necessary because “we heard [so many] negative things” about the hospital, said Susan Fox, the Web site’s founder.

The hospital responded in a sweeping two-page letter that outlined improvements to the emergency room over the last two years. There is now a separate pediatric emergency room and private suite for women with obstetric or gynecological concerns, and the entire facility was expanded by 50 percent, said the letter.

“We take community comments very seriously, and were especially disturbed that … there was a sense that the staff … did not seem to care about the feelings of the patients or their family members,” said the letter, which was signed by the vice president of communication and external affairs, Lyn Hill.

Hill promised that the hospital will make “every effort to address it,” but Van Amerongen added that it’s a two-way street.

“I don’t think people always understand that there is a system to this and there is a reason behind the system that they may not see just by being a patient coming in,” he said.

New York Methodist Hospital will hold a public meeting on Jan. 14 to discuss local concerns. For info, call the hospital at (718) 780-5367.