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The Emergency Room Next Door: NY Methodist Hospital

Despite its close proximity, many locals still steer clear of the hospital's ER.

In January 2009, had a public meeting to address complaints about its Emergency Room care. At that time, they assured the community that they were making efforts to improve. 

The good news—based on a sampling of neighborhood residents—is that the patient experience at New York Methodist Hospital’s Emergency Room seems to have improved substantially.

The bad news is that there are still lots of folks in Park Slope who, should an emergency present itself, plan to drive the half-hour into Manhattan, rather than walk over to Seventh Avenue and Sixth Street to give it a try.  

Opened in 1887, New York Methodist Hospital is affiliated with the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and is a member of the New York Presbyterian Healthcare System.  More than 90 of the hospital’s physicians have appeared on New York Magazines ranking of top doctors.  According to Dr. Steven Silber, Vice Chairman of Emergency Medicine and Vice President of Medical Affairs, the ER’s mission is to serve the local community, but he would put their quality of care “up against any hospital, anywhere.”

And yet, many in the neighborhood still seem wary.

Historically, the complaints about NY Methodist’s ER appear to have been less about the provision of medical care, and more about lengthy wait times and lack of communication between staff and patients. In response, the hospital added staff back in 2009 and provided existing staff with additional training. 

Other improvements included the recent addition of a Rapid Evaluation Area in the ER, which provides additional beds and exam areas. There is also a Nursing Support Generalist—on staff from noon to 10 p.m. four days a week—whose main role is to reduce patient waiting times in the waiting room. 

In the dedicated Pediatric Emergency Room, additional pediatric nurse practitioners have been added and, according to Christopher Kelly the Medical Director of the Pediatric ER they have adopted a “new attitude about giving great service.”

These efforts seem to be paying off.  For Lynn Harris, who had one somewhat disappointing experience with the hospital before 2009, two more recent trips to the New York Methodist ER—one pediatric and one adult—were, “exactly everything you would want it to be: attentive, thorough, pleasant and efficient.”      

Another Park Slope resident Janet Barad, sustained an injury in Manhattan, but opted to return home to Brooklyn instead of being treated at nearby Lenox Hill Hospital.  After a pleasant experience at New York Methodist, she was glad she did.

And Elizabeth Stover, who visited the NY Methodist Emergency room this last Halloween, described it as, “totally calm and the fastest ER visit of my life,” noting further that she didn’t feel, “rushed or dismissed, either. They were great.”

Though the vast majority of feedback about recent visits to NY Methodist’s Emergency Room was positive, it was not universally so. Hannah Abbott, for one, was disappointed by what she perceived to be a lack of follow-up after two recent visits.

Another issue of concern to some recent patients is NY Methodist’s policy with respect to ER insurance coverage.  Physicians who see patients in its ER, but are not ER doctors themselves—such as plastic surgeons and the like—do not universally accept the same insurance as the hospital as a whole.

“Even though it is legal in NY State, the practice of physicians not accepting insurance while they are treating a patient at an in-network facility (whether it's an ER doctor, an Anesthesiologist giving you an epidural, or a pediatrician seeing your child after delivery) is grossly unfair and unethical,” said Dr. Robert Thompson, a teaching hospitalist at Elmhurst Hospital who was himself sent a physician’s bill (now resolved) after a recent visit to the NY Methodist ER (This reporter faced a similar incident earlier this year as well).

NY Methodist could only say that it is aware of the issue and is currently reviewing its ER insurance policies.

Silber maintains that the mission of NY Methodist's ER is to "to serve
[the] community."  And with recent improvements, the hospital appears to
be doing a better job of that.

But, if or when, that will be enough to convince some neighborhood residents to walk up the block when they have a medical emergency—particularly a serious
one—instead of heading into Manhattan to one of the world renowned hospitals there, remains to be seen.

polly June 28, 2011 at 05:34 PM
I called a friend who is a patient and was on the phone 20 minutes while the switchboard gave me five different numbers, one to a lawyer's office somewhere in Brooklyn. Another friend was there for three days and couldn't get a simple procedure done. She paid for an ambulance to take her to Mt. Sinai. I would be a little nervous about being a patient there. and hope I have the choice to go to a good hospital.
cookie June 29, 2011 at 04:20 PM
my ob/gyn dr belongs to methodist, i had an outpt procedure there a couple o f years ago.. and i have no complaints everything went absolutley smoothly staff was nice.organized etc. id go there again,id even if given the opprotunity,work there,i work at maimo and prefer methodists hospitality;)
Jo Grossman June 30, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Before he died, my father was a patient there and his treatment was wonderful. I had heard lots of complaints about the hospital prior to that but after the experience with my father being there, I think they are wonderful. Regards, Jo Grossman
City Cat July 01, 2011 at 02:02 AM
My last of several negative experiences here happened when I went to the emergency room because the entire right side of my face was suddenly paralyzed. After waiting "only" a couple of hours a doctor stopped by and diagnosed Bells Palsy. Skip ahead a mere five more hours when an intern came over, shoved her face into mine, and told me to try as hard as possible to move my face. I was beyond upset that I couldn't even close my right eye, I never felt so helpless. The intern's response? "Hmmm. Interesting." And she turned and wallked away. What care and sensitivity!

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