Legislature approves task force to bring long-term pediatric care to Suffolk

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine said a long-term care facility for children is needed here.

The Suffolk County Legislature approved a resolution Tuesday that would create a task force to look into bringing a long-term pediatric care facility to Suffolk County to help underserved local children with serious medical needs.

The task force will explore costs, licenses, space, funding and research related to establishing a public or private care facility here.

“With three million residents, it’s inconceivable that no such facility exists and that our residents are forced off Long Island in search of quality care,” county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) said in a statement. “A full-scale long-term pediatric care facility should be developed on Long Island.”

According to a Jan. 12 Riverhead News-Review special report, there are few local long-term medical care options for children like Caroline Serva, who suffered severe brain damage after her premature birth in April 2010 and now requires constant medical attention.

Caroline’s parents, Karen and Rob, drive two hours twice a week from their Sound Beach home to see their daughter at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Westchester County.

Two other local children injured in near-fatal accidents last year, Michael Hubbard and Rashad Jackson, are also at Blythedale.

In the months following the report, some politicians and hospital administrators said the issue will not be easy to resolve, while Suffolk County-based nonprofit groups have stepped up their efforts to find a solution.

“There are too many families like Michael Hubbard’s that have been affected by tragic accidents,” Mr. Romaine said. “If we can establish a long-term care facility in Suffolk, perhaps we can help ease some of their burden.”

The task force, which will be staffed by medical and county officials, now goes to the county executive to be signed into law or vetoed.

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