Doctors at the soon-to-close Victory Memorial Hospital couldn’t help the victims of a brutal car wreck in front of the 92nd Street medical center last Friday morning — because they weren’t allowed to.
The Dyker Heights hospital has been forced to turn away patients with serious injuries since the emergency room closed last month, but the gravity of the closure never seemed so tragic — or so real — until a sedan upended a Jeep at the corner of 92nd Street and Seventh Avenue at around 8:55 am.
Hospital staff heard the accident and rushed outside, but because Victory’s emergency room is now an “urgent care” center that can only treat minor injuries, doctors could do nothing but watch, employees said.
“We were all just standing there, we couldn’t do a thing,” said Robert Bonacci, an anesthesia technician at Victory. “It was just horrible. If something like this happened before [the ER closed], we would take them in, no matter what.”
Unable to treat the two victims, hospital staff looked on as the fire department, police, and paramedics placed a male victim in a neck-brace and attached him to an IV. A female victim was in better shape, Bonacci said.
An ambulance showed up about 20 minutes after the crash, he added, and transported both victims more than five miles from the doorstep of Victory to Beth Israel Hospital in Flatlands. Both patients were in stable condition this week, a Beth Israel spokeswoman said.
The crash actualized the greatest fears of many Victory employees: that with the closure of the ER and the pending shutdown of the hospital itself at the end of the month, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights residents won’t receive the care they need.
“This was bad, but what’s going to happen when someone has a heart attack or a stroke and we can’t treat them?” Bonacci asked.
Bill Guarinello, former chair of Victory’s board of directors has the same concern, and he is already pointing fingers.
“We’re going to be holding everyone from the governor on down accountable for all of the deaths that happen in south Brooklyn because without Victory, we are severely underserved,” he said.