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Queens Chronicle

DOA: Rockaway hospital may close

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Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2011 3:55 pm | Updated: 4:02 pm, Thu Jul 28, 2011.

Cash-strapped Peninsula Hospital in the Rockaways may close in three months if the 104-year-old institution cannot find other options to stay open.

The 200-bed facility employs 1,000 workers and its closing would also leave the Rockaways with only one hospital, St. John’s Episcopal, to serve the area’s 100,000 residents.

Borough President Helen Marshall in a statement released Monday said she does not know how St. John’s Episcopal will  be able to handle the overcrowding as a result of the closing. “It comes at a time when unprecedented new housing and infrastructure improvements are being built,” Marshall said.

She noted that meetings took place last week in Albany to address Peninsula’s growing debt problem — estimated at up to $60 million.

“I will call on state health officials to convene an emergency meeting to explain the future of healthcare” on the Rockaway peninsula.

The hospital is operated by the MediSys Health Network, which also runs Jamaica and Flushing hospitals. A statement released by the network said officials are working with the state Health Department and other parties “to try and find a workable solution to the deep financial crisis facing Peninsula Hospital.”

They recently met with representatives from St. John’s, Local 1199 and state officials, adding, “without a long-term solution that puts Peninsula Hospital on the path to fiscal recovery, an organized closure may be the only option.”

Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) said on Wednesday that he has been bombarded by hospital workers about the situation. “I am trying to make sense of it,” Sanders said. “I heard several entities are looking at the hospital to buy or merge.”

He called the potential closing “catastrophic” and said his priorities are to provide adequate healthcare in the Rockaways, make sure hospital workers are employed and find the best fit for the community.

In 2006, the state’s Commission on Health Care Facilities, known as the Berger Commission, called for the merging of Peninsula and St. John’s Episcopal, but that did not happen.

Since then, three other Queens hospitals have closed: Mary Immaculate in Jamaica and St. John’s in Elmhurst, due to financial problems of Caritas Health Care and Parkway in Forest Hills, which was closed by the state based on the Berger Commission recommendations.

In a 2006 report issued by Marshall, it was noted that Queens has 1.4 hospital beds per 1,000 residents, while Manhattan has 7.1 beds per 1,000. Apparently, that number is about to get worse.   

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