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April 26, 2013
Supervisor: Island Urgent is understaffing office
Adequate medical services are not being provided by Island Urgent Medical Care “as promised” when the company signed a lease for the front office space of the Town Medical Center, Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty agreed on Tuesday when a resident complained about staffing to the Town Board.
This fall the company has been providing a doctor only on Tuesdays and a physician’s assistant on Mondays and Thursdays, Mr. Dougherty reported at Tuesday’s work session.
“You ought to be allowed to get sick on a Wednesday,” former Town Supervisor Hoot Sherman said from the audience. He had told the board that a doctor was rarely available and he knew of someone who had needed blood drawn but had been turned away “three or four times” because no one was there to do it.
“That’s just not service,” Mr. Sherman said. “Make them live up to what they promised.”
Supervisor Dougherty agreed that the company was not following through on its pledges. He said he had talked to the company and “they promised me a new face … They’re struggling but you’re absolutely right.”
The firm has “promised an impending change,” the supervisor said, adding he would “report back next Tuesday” on the issue.
“They’re trying to take advantage” of the fact that the demand for services declines dramatically after the summer, the supervisor said.
He added that the physician’s assistant there, Islander John Reilly, was “doing good work.”
The lease makes no reference to the required hours or days for a physician to be available.
Dr. Daniel Ferrara, Island Urgent president, signed the lease on April 6, 2010 with the agreement that the rent would be $1,600 a month plus an annual consumer price index adjustment.
Dr. Ferrara agreed to do his best to have a Shelter Island resident as a doctor and, if that was not possible, he would be required to have a doctor stay on the Island if a severe storm were forecast and ferry service might be interrupted. The Police Chief was to coordinate that and notify Island Urgent if such a need occurred.
DERING HARBOR PLAN
Also at Tuesday’s brief work session — kept short to give the board more time to resume its line-by-line review of the 2013 budget plan -— Bay Constable Peter Vielbig reported that the town had done all it could to be ready to revive a special conditional shellfishing program for Dering Harbor and it was now up to the DEC to approve the program.
“They opened the door,” he said, and in response the town “had put the ball in their court. There’s nothing more we can do” but wait for the DEC to approve the program.
The supervisor said he had heard from the DEC’s William Hastback, the acting head of the regional shellfisheries section, that the DEC would work with the town to resume the program, which the DEC suspended in 2008 due a drop in staffing. But this year, new staff was added to the shellfisheries section, allowing the program to resume, Mr. Hastback told the supervisor in an October 4 letter.
Dering Harbor is off-limits only because of its proximity to the Heights Property Owners Corporation’s sewage treatment plant west of the North Ferry slips. Mr. Vielbig said Julie Ben-Susan, general manager of HPOC, was cooperating fully and that a telephone hot line remained in place and was working, which will allow Sam Case, who manages the plant, to immediately report any problems there — one of the requirements for the special program. Mr. Vielbig will collect required water samples to be sent to the DEC for regular testing, at no expense to the town, he said.
“My clam rake’s right by the garage,” Mr. Vielbig said.
Councilman Peter Reich reported he’d “had a conversation” with a LIPA official about the problem of people hooking utility lines when they anchor their boats off the east end of Crescent Beach. Mr. Reich said it had happened several times this summer.
There is a sign on the beach warning of underwater cables in the area but, Mr. Vielbig commented, people don’t necessarily look toward the beach when they drop anchor and perhaps an in-water warning sign was needed. He added that Bay Constable Butch Labrozzi had dialed the number LIPA has posted on the sign to call in case of an emergency “and it’s disconnected.”
An 80-foot Sunseeker motor yacht hooked a cable one day this summer, Mr. Vielbig said, and its owner hired a diver to free the line because the anchor and line were worth three or four thousand dollars.
Mr. Reich said there were four lines crossing from Shelter Island to the North Fork, including a phone line, a 1950s electrical line that is not in use, a 1970s line that is in service and a 69KW line that is the main supplier of power to the Island and LIPA’s main line between the North and South forks. He said no one knows how far apart they are. “Are they 2 feet apart, 20 feet apart?” he asked rhetorically.
Mr. Vielbig said that area for anchoring — which serves boaters headed for Sunset Beach — “is in the worst possible location” in terms of exposure to underwater cables. “There’s probably no place on Long Island with more lines and boats anchoring” nearby.
In addition to anchors that hook the cables and pull them up from under the bottom, strong currents in the area erode away sand and expose them, Mr. Reich said he had been told. “We’ll keep after this,” the councilman said.