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Despite complaints, new hospital eyes another project

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The new, state-of-the-art Queens Hospital Center has been open to patients for several months, but it appears construction on the 22-acre campus is far from over.

A new Queens County Medical Examiner’s office is planned to replace the one currently at the northern edge of the Jamaica campus, according to officials from the hospital and the New York City Medical Examiner’s office.

But while spokeswomen for the hospital and the medical examiner's office confirmed that a project is in the planning stages, neither would provide any specific details about when work would begin or how construction of the new facility would affect the surrounding community.

“I can confirm there is a project,” said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York City Medical Examiner. “But as far as what they have in mind, you would have to ask New York Health and Hospitals Corporation.”

But Lata Vasconcellos, a spokeswoman for Queens Hospital Center, which is run by NYHHC, said the medical examiner's office, not the hospital corporation, would have the details about the plans for a new building.

The Queens Medical Examiner currently has a decade-old office inside the Queens morgue, which is run by the Queens Hospital Center and sits at the southern edge of the campus near Goethals Avenue.

During Community Board 8’s Jan. 9 meeting, members expressed shock that this was the first they had heard of plans to construct a new medical examiner’s office, despite dealing with the construction plans for the hospital campus for more than two years.

“This was never discussed with us,” said Bernard Diamond, chairman of the board’s Queens Hospital Center committee.

In October, the $147 million, 200-bed Queens Hospital Center became the first brand new public hospital built in New York City in decades. But Diamond also said that despite the completion, residents have still been inundated with noise from late night deliveries to the hospital.

“This is a minor thing to the hospital, but a major thing if you are trying to sleep,” he said.

The hospital’s delivery platform is on the campus’ westernmost edge, just off 161st Street, which is a residential block.

Board Chairman Alvin Warshaviak said two years ago that hospital officials had made an agreement with Community Board 8 stating that no major deliveries would be made to the hospital before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Warshaviak said the late-night rumblings heard by Hillcrest and Jamaica Hills residents indicate that the agreement is not being adhered to.

But Vasconcellos said she was not aware of the existence of such an agreement. She said the delivery platform is open between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and that only in an emergency situation, such as the delivery of oxygen or blood supplies, would a delivery be made after 5 p.m.

“Residents might be confusing deliveries with garbage pickups,” she added.

Garbage pickups have occurred well after business hours, but the hospital is working with the private contractor for a way to have the garbage picked up during or close to business hours, she said.

“We are trying to resolve this,” said Vasconcellos. “We want to be considerate and sensitive to our neighbors.”

Community Board 8 covers the neighborhoods of Kew Garden Hills, Fresh Meadows, Briarwood, Utopia, Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, and south Flushing.

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