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Pharmacy to stay open at Queens Hospital: Officials

Public hospital officials have put on hold a plan to close a pharmacy at a Jamaica health clinic in order to stem a $28 million deficit.

The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the Charles R. Drew Health Center through Queens Hospital Center, had announced that the pharmacy would close Nov. 1, said QHC spokesman Philip Cooke.

But after dozens of patients called City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) to complain about the closure, the hospital has decided to place a moratorium on the closure and seek out other options to save money, Cooke said.

“Queens Hospital is going to constantly work with the community to make sure we’re not compromising patient care while we’re trying to satisfy budgetary needs, which we’re all required to do,” he said. “We’re looking to creative ways to save dollars.”

The Charles R. Drew Health Center, located at 166-10 Archer Ave. in Jamaica, is a satellite branch of Queens Hospital Center, in Jamaica, and the only one with a pharmacy within the clinic, Cooke said. The pharmacy, which serves many senior citizens and low-income families, fills about 80 prescriptions a day, he said.

Under its plan to close the pharmacy, the hospital would have set up a system allowing patients to fax in prescriptions to be filled and then take a free shuttle to pick up their medications at the hospital pharmacy, Cooke said.

But community residents say the pharmacy at the clinic is simply more convenient.

“I used to get my medications at Queens Hospital Center, but when they started this, I said, ‘great,’” said a woman at the pharmacy who asked that her name not be used. “It’s so much closer and easier.”

Cooke also said that of the 80 prescriptions filled daily, about 55 of them are covered by a health insurance plan.

“Those patients could easily get their prescriptions filled at another neighborhood pharmacy,” he said.

The hospital is working with area politicians and its advisory board — made up of hospital personnel, patients, and community members — to come up with another solution, Cooke said. There are no details yet on other options, he said.

“The main concern of Queens Hospital Center and the Health and Hospitals Corporation is to serve the needs of our patients,” he said. “What we were trying to do is make sure we can still provide quality care.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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