When three Queens hospitals closed in 2008 and 2009, more and more people who use emergency rooms for primary care were faced with fewer and fewer options.
Now New York Hospital Queens in Flushing has taken the first of two big steps aimed at improving their care.
The hospital on Jan. 26 cut the ribbon on its Emergency Department’s new urgent care facility, an area with seven stations all aimed at treating patients who require treatment but who will not need to be admitted.
“We see 125,000 patients a year in our emergency room,” said Dr. Mark Kindschuh, vice chairman of emergency medicine. “Break that down per day.”
He said such urgent care patients make up about 25 percent of the emergency room’s daily caseload.
The new unit was unveiled with much fanfare in a ceremony that included Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone) Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing).
Meng became a mother at the hospital. Marshall said both she and her husband have been treated there.
“I remember when it was Booth Memorial,” the borough president said.
Kindschuh and Stephen Mills, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, said all remaining area hospitals, including New York Hospital Queens, felt the impact after Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills closed in 2008.
St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate in Jamaica followed suit in 2009.
“All the other hospitals had to take up the slack,” Mills said.
He said the new facility, in a space that used to house office and administrative space off of the ER facilities, was paid for with a $4 million grant from the Healthcare Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers program.
The same grant will pay for 10 new acute care beds in the emergency room, which Kindschuh said will be ready in 2012.
Kindschuh said the urgent care stations will make people’s stay in the waiting area shorter.
“Just sitting them down in the waiting room doesn’t address their needs,” Dr. George Heinrich, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, said.
All still will have access to basic health care, 24-7 emergency dental service and opthalmology services while freeing other staff and resources — including the hospital’s Level 1 trauma unit — for the more seriously afflicted patients and dire emergencies.
“Queens has two airports, three major highways and two major sports facilities,” Mills said. “We are going to have a major emergency someday.”