Editorial: Something must be done for these children, families

An estimated 600 Long Island families have a child, or children, in need of round-the-clock medical attention. And while many are fortunate enough to be able to provide such care at home, many others find themselves in the agonizing position of having to live far from loved ones receiving care at facilities elsewhere.

This year in Riverhead alone, two teenagers, Michael Hubbard and Rashad Jackson, had to be moved to Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Westchester, two hours away, for treatment after near-fatal accidents.

The lack of such a facility on Long Island, home to 2.4 million people, must be addressed. And soon. Due to medical advances, such children are now living longer and surviving accidents that decades ago would have killed them. And while these children struggle to recover elsewhere, the families left behind are being torn apart by the travel and everyday stress.

Today there is only one local alternative for families with a child in need of long-term care, Angela’s House, which is run by a nonprofit group of the same name. But Angela’s House has a waiting list a mile long and has limited options for children in need of certain technologies.

A reputable private group — either a for-profit business, a nonprofit organization or hospital — must undertake the task of establishing a full-size care facility for children on Long Island. The challenge is to find a nursing facility that is willing to cater to children. There are different staffing and training requirements for dealing with children, and most long-term medical care organizations here are set up to deal only with the elderly.

We’re urging our readers to take action and write to their government officials.

Our locally elected leaders — state Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Dan Losquadro and county Legislator Ed Romaine — should be doing everything in their power, through lobbying and legislative efforts, to see to it that economic incentives are in place for an organization to step in and fill this void for these ailing children — and their desperate families.