Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Medical Community Reacts To Island Health Report

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Members of the medical community say they're concerned after a new report released shows residents on Staten Island have a higher mortality rate than any other borough in the city. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

Deaths from all causes are higher on Staten Island than the citywide average, 17 percent higher to be exact. It's a statistic health professionals said is puzzling given higher incomes and education levels of residents in the city's least populous borough.

"Our patients, our people on Staten Island, are dying at a higher rate than I think they should. Mortality on Staten Island is very similar to the Bronx and significantly higher than the rest of New York City," said Dr. Allan Perel, Richmond County Medical Society.

Those findings and others are the subject of a report on the Island's health, commissioned by Staten Island doctors, and based on data collected from the 2004 census.

Among other findings, deaths from both heart disease and cancer were 25 percent higher than New York City's average. People are more likely to smoke and be overweight on Staten Island.

While the report doesn't give a reason for its findings, it points heavily at the lack of a public hospital and the benefits that would come with being part of the Health and Hospitals Corporation system.

"We don't have HHC services or a hospital system out here like Bellevue or Kings County and patients who are more indigent or underinsured really don't get the care that they probably should," said Perel.

Communities on the Island's north shore have higher infant mortality rates than the rest of the city. With no city-run hospitals and just two of HHC's 80 community health clinics open on Staten Island, doctors believe it is time for the city to step in and help the problem.

"We're looking for the city to think about us on equal footing with all of the other four boroughs, for any program that comes up," said Perel.

The report also calls for a rape crisis center, labs for uninsured patients and more multidisciplinary clinics, among other things.

"To get off Staten Island is a challenge to begin with and the city should have a facility on Staten Island to treat these symptoms, these people with these symptoms. Whereas in other boroughs they have them. Staten Island is the forgotten borough," said Tony Summers, a patient.

"You need a city hospital. That's the answer to all of it, really," said Linda Hyland, a patient.

The HHC said it will continue to work to increase its presence in the borough and use the report in long range planning and program development efforts for the Island.

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