Activists talk plans to protect hospitals

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Community leaders and concerned citizens met in Jackson Heights Saturday to discuss the dire state of the borough’s health-care facilities, and each person seemed to have a different solution.

The activists gathered at the Renaissance School, at 35-39 81st St., to lay out their plans.

John Krall came with a plan to reopen Parkway Hospital, which closed in November 2008 as a result of the Berger Commission, just months before St. John’s in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate in Jamaica shut their doors as well.

“I’ve been spearheading this for the last four months,” Krall said after the meeting, claiming he had $70 million in capital but no support from politicians like City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills).

But Koslowitz, who did not attend the meeting, later said she has long been a proponent of reforming health care.

Medicaid was a major topic at the meeting, and Mark Bishop of Citizen Action of New York hoped to give Queens hospitals who serve a large population of poor and uninsured a break on the upcoming budget cuts.

Mark Hannay discussed the federal Affordable Health Care Act and the need to educate New Yorkers on how to take advantage of it.

Another activist was concerned about health-care providers shipping medication in the mail as opposed to offering it in pharmacies.

“If someone has a question about how many times a day do I take this, what can they do?” asked Herman Morales of Cornell Hospital.

Activist Larry Litt brought up the practice of using the hospitals and emergency rooms as a primary care destination, which further overburdens the facilities.

“Is the hospital the place that everybody should go?” he asked.

The opinions and comments rarely coalesced until Jessica Ramos, also of Citizen Action of New York, attempted to give the meeting a singular purpose.

“The point of this meeting is to form a team,” Ramos said. “That’s what we want to be born here today.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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