Since the state ordered Peninsula Hospital Center in Far Rockaway to admit no new patients, and transfer current ones, last week because health inspectors found “serious deficiencies” in its clinical laboratory, officials have been trying to piece together the 104-year-old institution that has been rocked by financial problems and was almost shut down last year.
State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah last Thursday directed Peninsula to no longer admit any new patients, either through its emergency room or from physicians, to transfer inpatients who are dependent upon laboratory services, and to immediately cancel all surgeries.
Health officials documented a long list of deficiencies at the lab, noting that inspectors found three units of expired plasma in the blood-bank freezer. Additionally, officials found that expired reagents, or substances used to trigger a chemical reaction in lab samples, were used in the blood bank.
Inspectors also documented that an individual worked alone at the blood bank in January after receiving just two days of training. Because of that, officials said, she did not perform quality control or take the required daily temperatures to ensure that blood was stored in appropriate conditions.
Also at the blood bank, officials said, “no testing, quality control, temperatures or maintenance is reviewed by laboratory administration.”
The lab also has no backup for its information and, if the computer system fails, the data will be irretrievable, they added. The hospital has a substantial sickle cell and oncology population that receives multiple transfusions, and health officials said the ability to retrieve their information is “critical to ensure safe transfusions.”
Health officials said the lab would be closed for no more than 30 days, provided the hospital can remedy the situation.
Peninsula spokeswoman Liz Sulik said the hospital is complying with all of the state’s demands.
“It is expeditiously developing a plan to remedy the laboratory deficiencies and hopes to restore full services as soon as possible,” Sulik said.
Sulik stressed that the hospital is not fully closed, and that there are non-clinical services available, such as radiology. The hospital’s attached nursing home also continues to operate.
Borough President Helen Marshall said she is working with officials from Peninsula and the state in a “combined effort to facilitate compliance with state regulations that will allow the lab to reopen and hospital functions to resume as soon as possible.”
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) also said he will work with officials on the matter.
“Putting patient safety at risk is outrageous and unacceptable,” Goldfeder said. “Our hospitals and healthcare facilities must be held to the highest standards to protect the health and safety of our families.”
This is not the first time the state has ordered Peninsula not to admit any more patients. After financial problems plagued the institution, Peninsula’s parent company, MediSys, ended its affiliation with the medical institution and state officials ordered last August that it not take in any new patients until a new operational plan could be implemented.
After it was announced that Peninsula could close, leaving just one hospital, St. John’s, to serve the Rockaways, there were numerous rallies to save the facility. In September, Brooklyn-based Revival Home Health Care reached a deal to take over the hospital. Still, Peninsula has been caught up in bankruptcy proceedings since last fall, though officials said they expect it to emerge from Chapter 11 by this spring.
A spokeswoman for Revival said the company had no comment on the hospital’s current situation.