Northwell Health Cares for Fire Island

The Doctor Is In

By Bruce-Michael Gelbert

Walk-in health care in Cherry Grove and Ocean Beach has graduated from the former “band-aid stations” thanks to Northwell Health. Both are overseen by Edward Fraser, Vice President of Community Relations. Prior to Northwell Health assuming full responsibility and purchasing the Doctor’s House in Cherry Grove, New York City’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, dedicated to the health needs of the LGBT community, ran the Grove Doctor’s House for several seasons. Before that, medical professionals were engaged by the Cherry Grove Doctor’s Fund, which raised money for what was then known as the Elmer A. Lindsay Memorial Center. The money was raised through the popular annual Doctor’s Fund Benefit Show, which originated at Cherry’s on the Bay and then moved to the Community House.

As arranged by Mr. Fraser, I met with Nurse Practitioner Louise Anne Purcell from Northwell Health, a staff member at the Immediate Care Center in Cherry Grove. The Immediate Care Centers are staffed by Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs). Northwell Health has been staffing the Ocean Beach clinic since 2013 and the Cherry Grove clinic since 2014. Purcell has worked in the Grove during each of Northwell Health’s seasons here. The Doctor’s House and Ocean Beach facility have well-appointed Immediate Care Centers open from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-September, each with comfortable living quarters for the NPs and PAs as well as their families.

The Immediate Care Center provides urgent care, and is equipped to perform urinalysis, strep and pregnancy testing. NPs and PAs can suture, administer tetanus shots, antibiotics, prednisone and acute respiratory treatments. Free flu shots will be distributed in September to both communities, dates to be determined. The medical staff has treated construction workers, restaurant workers, residents and visitors for poison ivy, burns, cuts and conjunctivitis, among other services. The Immediate Care Center partners with EMT services to transfer patients requiring a higher level of care to local hospitals.

In addition to administering prescription medications, staff members can also electronically submit prescriptions to the pharmacy of a patient’s choice. Purcell showed me the Emergency Grab and Go Kit, which contains supplies needed to treat cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest and anaphylaxis, as well as resuscitation equipment and fluids. The clinic accepts most insurance plans.Northwell Health also organizes free community health talks on various topics, such as cancer services, emergencies in paradise, Narcan training and tickborne illnesses.It’s reassuring to know that health care is in capable hands with Northwell Health’s presence on Fire Island.

Northwell Health Cherry Grove 153 Doctors Walk 631-597-6767 Monday through Friday: 9-11 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m.-noon and 3-6 p.m. Northwell Health Ocean Beach 504 Bayberry Walk 631-583-8548 Monday through Friday: 9-11 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m.-noon and 3-6 p.m.