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Guv infuses Queens hospitals with $30M

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Gov. David Paterson infused the Queens health care community with more than $30 million last Thursday as the borough’s beleaguered collection of hospitals and communities prepared for a potential resurgence of swine flu this fall.

Paterson authorized the release of $30 million in funds from the state Health Department and the state Dormitory Authority to go toward supporting hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centers and community health centers in Queens overburdened by the closure of three hospitals in the last nine months.

Borough President Helen Marshall thanked Paterson and said the move provides some short-term relief, but said the additional funding will do little to allay long-term issues facing Queens health care.

“This aid is welcome relief that will help to address the problem of overcrowding in emergency rooms, but long-term solutions are still needed to reduce a medical crisis in the borough following the recent closures of three hospitals: Parkway, Mary Immaculate and St. John’s Queens,” Marshall said.

She added: “This $30 million allows our medical facilities to take a tepid step forward, but it can only be used for limited capital improvements and does not address the need for more staff amidst a current shortage of nurses and additional medical equipment to provide for additional patients. You can build a bigger emergency room, but where is the additional medical staff.”

It was not immediately clear how the funding would be divided up among Queens health-care facilities.

Meanwhile, a bankruptcy court hearing was scheduled for Friday to discuss a motion made by Caritas Health Care Inc. for approval to auction off its Mary Immaculate and St. John’s hospital sites.

According to court papers, Brooklyn Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge Carla Craig will rule on a motion to authorize the sale of the two sites and the buildings that formerly housed the hospitals as the beleaguered health-care provider liquidates its assets.

According to bankruptcy filings made by Caritas, the former management company for the two hospitals was mired in more than $45 million in debt when it filed for bankruptcy in February.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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