The medical facility a great community needs


Things we don’t want in our backyards: incinerators, releasing toxic fumes in the air. Nightclubs, with late-night rooftop music. Prisons, with their high walls and guarded towers.
And medical facilities, designed to save us from traveling vast distances just to see a good doctor?
Mount Sinai South Nassau wants to open a four-story, 60,000-square-foot specialty-care medical facility on Wantagh Avenue in Wantagh. It would provide everything from radiology, pain management and oncology to a much-needed women’s center.
The facility would have 50 private patient examination and consultation rooms, accounting for 75 percent of the space. It would bring 100 new jobs to Wantagh, fewer than a third of them physicians. The rest would be the kind of skilled positions that too many area residents now have to commute to.
What Mount Sinai is planning will look like a brand-new building, but it’s not. It would take over a drab brick building that has been vacant for five years. It has become the massive elephant in the neighborhood that many residents and business owners hope their friends and customers don’t see.
Mount Sinai’s idea is to create one-stop medical services — providing anything you might need outside of a hospital, all under one roof. Imagine seeing your cardiologist in a warm, inviting office. She orders X-rays, but you don’t have to hop in your car to get them. You just take the elevator. When you return, someone is waiting to draw some blood just to rule out infections or other diseases.
You take care of almost everything you need in a single visit. Then you head out and make a quick stop at a local pharmacy to pick up your medication.
We don’t think about the value of having all of this in one place — in our neighborhood — until we need it. Maybe an occasional cardiologist’s visit wouldn’t be a big deal if it involved multiple stops. But if we were being treated for cancer, and needed to make regular trips to a medical office, why would we want to drive to North Shore or even Manhattan every time? Wouldn’t we be going through enough already? Wouldn’t life be better if we had this kind of facility in our backyard?
And why can’t a woman make a single stop for an annual checkup, and have a mammogram and all her lab work done in the same place, at the same time?
What Mount Sinai wants to do in Wantagh is hardly new. One-stop medical facilities are common in other parts of the country, especially in areas with large senior citizen populations. No, not common — they are welcomed. Demanded.
And this type of facility isn’t even new to Long Island. Mount Sinai opened a similar one in Greenlawn, near Huntington, that is not only a good neighbor, but has been embraced by that community.
There have been legitimate questions asked of Mount Sinai about the Wantagh facility — especially when it comes to parking and the impact on traffic. But the development process with local officials isn’t about a hard yes or no over whether it should be opened, but instead, how Mount Sinai can work with local officials and neighbors to ensure that those questions are answered and those concerns addressed.
And from what we’ve seen, Mount Sinai has gone above and beyond to answer them.
You can’t see it from the street, but there are nearly 250 parking spots on the Wantagh Avenue property, and study after study — as well as the hospital group’s own experience — has found that 250 is more than enough.
Like many medical facilities, Mount Sinai’s Wantagh center would be designed to simply blend into the community — but when you needed it, it would be there, ready to serve. And in the meantime, it would bring people into Wantagh, not to clog up streets, but to visit the restaurants, shops, and other small businesses that are the lifeblood of the community.
Fight the incinerators, the loud nightclubs and even the prisons. But medical centers are exactly what every great community needs, and this one is just what a great community like Wantagh needs.