A Chicago-based group interested in buying the dying Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway met with more than 500 Queens residents this week, including elected officials and civic leaders, to present its plan for revitalizing the institution that is slated for closure.
Dr. Seth Guterman, who represents the People’s Choice Hospital group from the windy city, said his organization was willing to invest $20 million into the 173-bed facility, according to individuals who attended the meeting on Tuesday evening. He gathered with the crowd of hundreds at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 333 Beach 90th St. in the Rockaways.
The state Department of Health last week ordered the 104-year-old Peninsula Hospital to submit a closure plan to Albany. The move came on the heels of health inspectors documenting “serious deficiencies” at Peninsula’s clinical laboratory.
Lori Lapin Jones, the trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court to oversee the hospital’s operations, has one of the final says when it comes to whether or not the hospital closes, and a source close to the situation said she refuses to meet with Guterman —or any party interested in taking over Peninsula. According to the same source, there are at least three groups who have expressed interest in running the Far Rockaway institution.
According to state law, Jones, who could not be reached for comment, could land up to 3 percent of every $1 million she returns to Peninsula’s creditors. The hospital’s major creditor is 1199SEIU, the healthcare workers’ union, which is owed millions of dollars.
Community members and elected officials, including Borough President Helen Marshall and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park), have lashed out against the plan to shutter the institution, which leaves the Rockaways with one hospital —St. John’s — and have participated in protests against it throughout the week.
Hundreds of people were expected to protest the plan outside the state Department of Health’s office in Manhattan on Wednesday evening.