Tidings of Comfort and Joy

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The Queens publishing family wishes our readers a holiday season filled with joy and hope.

We can think of no greater tidings than the news that thousands of American soldiers are on their way home from Iraq. For the soldiers and families that have waited for their safe return, this will be a special holiday.

Welcome home.

Reversing Hospital Care Decline

Brooklyn has taken a step forward in dealing with its hospital crisis. A group has been established to examine the borough’s diminishing health-care resources. The Brooklyn Health Systems Redesign Work Group, or the Berger Commission II, released a report with recommendations for increasing financial resources and quality of care.

The same thing needs to happen in Queens. A group similar to the commission needs to be formed to study the decline of hospital resources in the county. In particular, a commission must address the shortage of emergency rooms.

If that does not happen, lives may be needlessly lost.

In recent years, four hospitals in Queens have closed. They include St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst; St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flushing, which became a drug abuse facility; Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills; and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica.

There are differing and complex reasons why this happened, but the result was the same: The people of Queens have less access to medical care.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley has written a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking to “start a conversation” on how the hospital problem in Queens and the Bronx can be addressed.

We have no doubt the governor understands the problem Queens is facing, nor do we imagine there are any easy answers. We applaud Crowley for getting the ball rolling.

One thing is certain: In recent years, the borough has been moving in the wrong direction when it comes to hospital care. Health-care jobs have been lost along with hospital beds.

The problem has to be addressed on a boroughwide level before it gets any worse.

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