Editorial: Pediatric care task force a landmark for movement

03/31/2012 9:59 AM |

There are two requisites for effecting change in the societies in which we live ­— getting a movement under way and then actually getting results.

And they are equally challenging to achieve.

In the issue of providing long-term pediatric care on Long Island, the first requisite is on the verge of being met. With news this week that a Suffolk County task force is in the works to look into bringing a full-service, long-term pediatric care facility to Long Island, it’s clear that lawmakers recognize this great need for so many local families.

Champions of the movement — at the forefront are Karen and Rob Serva, whose daughter Caroline suffered brain damage after birth and now lives at a long-term care facility upstate — have been doing everything right in bringing attention to this issue.

They’ve been interviewing with local and regional media, speaking at public meetings, writing letters to politicians and op-ed editors and working the social media. The Servas have also started a website called bringcarolinehome.com to educate others about this void in local medical services, using their own heart-wrenching daily struggle as evidence. They also urge others to write to their elected leaders for help.

Perhaps most important of all, the Servas (and others) have refused to accept the expected dismissive explanations as to why this might be too big a challenge locally, or why other needs might command more attention.

“I invite these officials to come into my home and sit face-to-face with me and tell me about the other, more pressing medical needs in our area,” Ms. Serva wrote in a February News-Review column, in response to our coverage of the issue. “The more delicate the child and more serious the medical condition, the harder families like mine are pressed to find a facility out of state.

“We have said, ‘Not this time.’ ”

That’s the only attitude that will keep this movement going, with the goal of actually getting such a facility built here. Achieving that result seems more likely now that the Legislature appears to be taking the issue seriously.

Legislators Ed Romaine and Kate Browning have offered suggestions on how to address this need, namely a possible private-public partnership at the county’s half-empty Foley Nursing Home in Yaphank or even the former Capital One building in Mattituck.

More ideas would be generated through the task force, which has not yet been officially formed. An aide to Mr. Romaine said an announcement on the task force’s formation may come within two weeks. We urge officials to move forward without delay.