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New Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills has transferred all of its inpatients to other health facilities following an order by the state Department of Health that the hospital, which has served the community for more than four decades, can no longer offer acute inpatient services.
Hospital officials battled for months to keep open the facility that community members say has saved countless lives since its opening in the mid−1960s, but that fight was officially lost when the DOH notified the hospital Nov. 5 that the facility’s state operating license was no longer valid.
“No one comes and padlocks the building, but we are not taking new admissions,” said hospital spokesman Fred Stewart. “We can still provide medical services out of this building. The only thing we can’t do is provide acute care inpatient services.”
Parkway is still operating several of its centers, including the sleep disorders, wound care hyperbaric, and diagnostic cardiology centers.
Parkway is one of the hospitals the New York State Commission on Healthcare Facilities in the 21st Century, known as the Berger Commission, mandated to close because it said the area had too many empty hospital beds.
Additionally, DOH spokeswoman Claudia Hutton said Parkway “scored lowest of hospitals in that area on items such as financial stability, numbers of patients served and how well their revenues covered their expenses.”
Since the DOH ordered the hospital closed on Sept. 30, the hospital has been battling the state in the courts and had received a temporary restraining order against the DOH in September, which allowed the hospital to remain open. Stewart said an appellate court, however, did not grant the hospital a hearing to keep the temporary restraining order in place last week.
Attempts to fight the appellate’s court decision failed when the hospital went Nov. 3 to federal court, which denied it a temporary restraining order.
“It’s an outrage that hospital is allowed to close,” said Estelle Chwat, the hospital’s first personnel director. “There are plenty of people, plenty of elderly people, who need that hospital.”
Though Hutton said area residents will not have to travel far to go to such facilities as Flushing or Forest Hills hospitals, Chwat said other hospitals are located too far away for residents living on Grand Central Parkway, where Parkway is located, when emergencies strike. Additionally, she said other area institutions can be too crowded, though Hutton said locals should have no problem locating open beds.
“There have been many times that hospital has saved our lives,” Chwat said of Parkway. “It has saved many lives.”
There are currently about 300 employees at the hospital, and less than 18 patients who need to be moved, Stewart said.
Stewart said he was “dismayed this was happening” to a hospital he maintained is needed in an area he said has hospitals in trouble. Caritas, which owns St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate in Jamaica, is strapped for cash. Jamaica Hospital is in turmoil after executives there were allegedly connected to embattled state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D−Richmond Hill).
Seminerio was charged in August in a criminal complaint alleging he set up a fake consulting business that took $310,000 from hospital executives speculated to be from Jamaica Hospital.
The DOH has recommended Parkway become a health clinic and Stewart said the institution will remain in the health care business.
“We have plans for reconfiguration to be a diagnostic or treatment center,” Stewart said.
Parkway would need to submit plans to the DOH before it could become a clinic, Hutton said.
Howard Koplowitz contributed to this article.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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