Northport VAMC surgical suites closed, again

Jonathan Kaupanger
March 05, 2018 - 11:15 am

Photo by Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal/MCT/Sipa USA

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VA’s Northport Medical Center was forced to close its surgery suites again last week.  This is the latest in a string of serious infrastructure problems that continues to effect services at the New York facility. The backlog of maintenance projects at Northport is estimated to top $279 million.

According to a post on the medical center’s Facebook page, surgeries had been canceled for three days so the maintenance work on the HVAC motor could be replaced. Operating rooms resumed normal operations on Feb. 27.

This isn’t the first time surgeries were stopped due to the center’s HVAC system. In 2016, metal fragments blowing from vents into the operating rooms caused the surgical suites to be closed for four months.  A year before that, pipes in the cooling towers on top of the almost 50-year-old building ruptured. The medical center has also been fined for failing to comply with federal and state environmental regulations concerning its wastewater treatment plant, underground and aboveground storage tanks and management of hazardous waste.

Then in January, the veteran homeless shelter at Northport was forced to close when its HVAC system failed and 33 veterans had to be relocated to other facilities on Long Island. The repairs to the homeless shelter won't be finished until this summer. Problems with the homeless shelter started in 1997, when the building was converted from office space to residential use. Officials state that the electrical system was insufficient to support the new HVAC system.

Last year, problems with Northport’s cooling towers ended with the resignation of the medical center’s engineering director.  This departure capped almost a year of senior leadership turmoil at the hospital.  A new director, Scott Guermonprez, started in June. About the same time, the top deputy retired and the chief of staff and head of nursing had been temporarily reassigned to duties away from the medical center.

Last year, the Northport VAMC lost more than $9 million in federal funding when it failed to complete maintenance projects in a timely manner. 

VA has given this medical center four-stars for the last two years.  In 2015, Northport had a 2-star rating, five stars is the VA’s highest rating.Northport’s 91-year-old VAMC is comprised of 42 buildings, and the main hospital building was built during the Vietnam War.