New Hyde Park hospital gives free bus to sick kids

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The hospital is the centerpiece of a system of medical facilities and doctors, encompassing more than 1,000 pediatricians on Long Island and in Queens, said Dr. Philip Lanzkowsky, executive director and chief of staff at Schneider.

"The program permits us to tie everything together," Lanzkowsky said, referring to the bus service.

While 2,000 children are transported around the system yearly in ambulances, no option was available for parents whose kids did not require emergency service but still needed a ride to the hospital or its affiliates.

Lanzkowsky said he expects the bus to transport 50 children a week and relieve parents of the stress of getting to the hospital.

"They're anxious and they get nervous," he said. "We need to be receptive to all the needs."

The bus, which holds 12 passengers, was paid for by Kohl's, a national chain of department stores with outlets on Long Island. Its first Queens location is coming to Fresh Meadows this October.

"It's our way of saying thank you," said John Vincente, district manager for Suffolk County.

Outside Schneider, Vincente and other Kohl's representatives posed with Bob Greenberg, an actor hired to impersonate Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason's bus-driving character on the classic show "The Honeymooners." They then presented the hospital with a check for $207,000.

Lanzkowsky said the funds will pay for the cost of purchasing the bus and operating it for three years. Additional outside funding will be needed after that.

"This is an amenity which the hospital cannot afford," Lanzkowsky said.

Under its Kohl's Cares for Kids program, the department store chain already finances the Kohl's Family Resource Center at Schneider, which provides an opportunity for family members to relax or to get information about a child's illness.

"Whenever we have a problem, we go to Kohl's," Lanzkowsky said, adding that he expects the new bus to be extensively used.

"Ultimately, we may need more than one."

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 7:04 pm, October 10, 2011
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