Queens Hospitals on Life Support

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Queens is on the brink of a health care crisis that will only become more dire if two more borough facilities close.

Holliswood Hospital, a 125-bed private psychiatric facility, is preparing to completely shut down within several weeks, and St. John’s Episcopal, the last remaining major medical center on the Rockaway Peninsula, is struggling financially, according to its workers.

Since 2008, three hospitals in Queens — Parkway in Forest Hills, Mary Immaculate in Jamaica and St. John’s Queens in Elmhurst — have closed, equating to the loss of approximately 840 beds.

And the situation is particularly critical in the superstorm-battered Rockaways. Peninsula Hospital was forced to stop admitting patients by the state Department of Health last year, leaving more than 100,000 peninsula residents to rely entirely on St. John’s Episcopal.

Where would Rockaway residents go if it, too, shuts down?

Jamaica Hospital, at 89-00 Van Wyck Expwy., would be the closest hospital to the Rockaways, and it is nearly 12 miles away from the bridge that connects Broad Channel with Rockaway Beach.

The remaining facilities in Queens have stepped up to offset the closures somewhat. New York Hospital Queens opened a community-based practice in Whitestone, Elmhurst Hospital cut the ribbon on its Chest Pain Observation Unit and Queens Hospital Center expanded its geriatric clinic — all within the last 13 months.

But can these additions balance out the loss of medical providers if there is a emergency?

Queens leaders need to begin a frank discussion with hospital heads as to how the borough can economically add more beds and coordinate health care between large institutions and smaller facilities.

Earlier this year, NYHQ President and CEO Stephen Mills warned that the borough is not necessarily prepared if many people were injured at once.

“We have two stadiums, two major highways and two major airports. A number of major disasters could potentially take place at any time, and we do not have the capability in Queens to take care of all of them.”

Preparation and innovation is key to proving Mills wrong.

Posted 1:52 am, August 23, 2013
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