A Queens Supreme Court judge upheld a temporary restraining order Monday filed by Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills in a move to keep the facility open after the state Department of Health ordered it to close Sept. 30, the hospital said.
The law secretary for Queens Civil Court Judge Frederick D.R. Sampson, who made the decision, could not be reached to confirm the ruling.
"With the current crisis enveloping Queens' healthcare, including the potential loss of a number of hospitals teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, this decision could not have come at a more critical hour," the hospital said Monday in a statement.
Supporters of the hospital rallied outside Queens Supreme Court last week in Long Island City.
"What we're asking for is a bit more time not to leave people in the lurch to restructure and reorganize Parkway into a different kind of health care facility," said hospital spokesman Fred Stewart.
He contended Parkway is needed in the community because Caritas, which owns St. John's Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate in Jamaica, is strapped for cash and Jamaica Hospital is in turmoil after executives there were allegedly connected to embattled state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Richmond Hill).
Seminerio was charged last month in a criminal complaint alleging he set up a fake consulting business. The complaint accused Seminerio of taking $310,000 from hospital executives that were widely speculated to be from Jamaica Hospital.
"You're dealing with a very capricious situation," Stewart said.
He said the state Department of Health order to close Parkway came three days before the agency received the hospital's reconfiguration plan.
Harry Demiris, one of the attorneys representing Parkway, said the so-called Berger Commission recommended closing the hospital despite a regional advisory committee's advice that it should stay open.
He said Parkway receives no state or federal funding because it is a for-profit hospital, and the Berger Commission was supposed to look at ways to cut state costs.
"The Berger Commission is not satisfying its own purpose by shutting down Parkway Hospital," Demiris said. The order to close Parkway "flies in the face of the purpose of the Berger Commission."
"I think it's a travesty that the Department of Health doesn't care to help hospitals," said Dr. Robert Aquino, the hospital's owner.
State Sen. George Onorato (D-Astoria) said the hospital does a service to the community.
"Western Queens has been neglected for many, many years," he said. "It doesn't make any sense to close a hospital like that down. The community of Queens is underserved and we need this hospital."
State Assemblyman Darryl Towns (D-Brooklyn) said he felt compelled to support the hospital even though he represents Brooklyn because he feared its closure would affect other hospitals.
"In my community, we have a great game called dominoes," he said. "We can't afford to play dominoes with our health care system.
"Every institution we can keep open is worth keeping open ... and Parkway is one of those institutions," Towns said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2008 Community News Group
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