Reporter Editorial: Let’s make a deal — now

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

In November it was announced that the town was involved in talks with Winthrop University Hospital and one other suitor to take over the completely failed town Medical Center.

Those who are not patients of Dr. Peter Kelt, who has an office there, have long been out of luck if they need medical care

The Medical Center is now mostly dark, with Island Urgent Medical Care, the company hired to provide medical services for the last three-and-a-half years still hanging on, even if you’d never know it most days. But there was a sign of hope when it was announced that new tenants replacing Island Urgent could be in by January 1.

Islanders are waiting.

The same way we’ve waited for reliable medical care and services  — please, we’ll settle for reliable — since April 6, 2010 when Island Urgent signed a lease with the town.

Almost from the beginning there were constant complaints about ever-shifting opening hours, flexible days when a doctor would be in residence, of calling and getting no answer or a run-around. We can expect this kind of treatment from the Department of Motor Vehicles and even cope with it through gritted teeth, but the same attitude from a medical center is deplorable and worse, potentially dangerous.

“You ought to be allowed to get sick on a Wednesday,” former Town Supervisor Hoot Sherman told the Town Board in October 2012. He added that a doctor was rarely available at the Medical Center, 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.

But the devil might have been in the details of the lease signed between the town and Island Urgent. The contract made no reference to required hours or days for a physician to be available.

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, understanding the gravity of the situation and the need to let the public know what was happening, said the executive session — or members only meeting — following the work session would be about negotiations to get new management to serve the Island’s health care needs.

It’s time now to make a deal. And imperative that it’s a deal strong on providing professional, reliable and first-class medical care for the Island.