Update: ‘Heavy agenda’ puts pediatric care issue on hold in committee

02/02/2012 12:30 PM |

FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine was expected to express his concerns about pediatric care at Thursday's health committee meeting.

 

UPDATE: The lack of long-term pediatric care on Long Island was never discussed at the county Legislature’s health committee meeting Thursday, as the News-Review had expected — and reported.

Legislator Ed Romaine said earlier this week that he would bring up the issue.

“The committee chairman had a ‘heavy agenda,’” explained Mr. Romaine’s legislative aide, Bill Faulk, on Friday.

The chairman told Mr. Romaine “that since the issue was so complex…he preferred to have that discussion at a future meeting,” Mr. Faulk said.

“Ed had previously e-mailed the commissioner who expressed similar concerns,” Mr. Faulk added. “We’re working to schedule a presentation at a future committee meeting.”

ORIGINAL STORY

In response to growing concerns over the lack of long-term medical care for Long Island children, the Suffolk County Legislature’s health committee will discuss the issue at its meeting Thursday, officials said. The meeting is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. Listen to it live here.

“I want to see this happen, because I can’t imagine being the parent of one of these children,” said county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches). “It’s a terrible, terrible thing.”

Mr. Romaine, a member of the health committee, has asked county health commissioner James Tomarken to provide any available statistics on the number of children on Long Island who need long-term medical care.

“You first have to identify the problem to identify the solution,” Mr. Romaine continued. “Between [Nassau and Suffolk counties] you probably have the population to justify a facility or part of a facility [for pediatric care].”

Dr. Tomarken is scheduled to brief the committee on the county health outlook for 2012 at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge today. He’s also preparing statements on the medical needs of fragile children, a health department spokesperson said Wednesday.

William Spencer (D-Centerport), a first-time legislator and chairman of the health committee, said that as a pediatric specialist, he is very familiar with the challenges medically dependent children and their families face.

“I share the concern with Mr. Romaine, but this is a problem that is not contained to Suffolk County,” Dr. Spencer said. “I trained in five states … this is a problem across the United States. You have situations where the needs these children require is extreme and constant and expensive. In a lot of these states you do the best you can do, and a lot of the time that’s not good enough.”

Funding for county programs is currently at the top of Dr. Spencer’s priority list, he said, but he added that the county would work to reach a “creative solution” to help dependent children.

Dr. Spencer said he’s aware there’s are not enough resources in the county to care “adequately” for such children.
“This is something I’d be willing to discuss with any legislator who wishes to speak with me,” he added.

psquire@timesreview.com