Children’s treatment program at Peninsula Hospital may soon be homeless


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

Photo Courtesy of Ronald Lamb.
Photo Courtesy of Ronald Lamb.

Peninsula Hospital Center officials are leaving Children's Day Treatment program officials and its 15 current students scrambling for a new home by the end of the year.

Three months after they rallied to rescue Peninsula Hospital Center, parents of a children’s day treatment program in the complex say they now need saving too.

The hospital center in Far Rockaway has housed the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center — and its children’s day treatment program — for over 10 years.

But now, Peninsula’s new management, Revival Home Health Care, says they need the space back — and fast — leaving program officials and its 15 current students scrambling for a new home by the end of the year.

“I think it’s really disappointing and sad because that’s a good program. It really is,” said Denise Hendricks, mother of a 13-year-old mentally handicapped student in the program. “The community needs that program. They do. For me and my child, it’s good where it’s at right now.”

The program provides clinical and academic services for children and teens who mostly reside in the Rockaway area, according to the program’s director, Ronald Lamb, and who suffer from profound behavioral and emotional difficulties.

Lamb said the program provides educational and therapeutic services — including individual and group therapy, psychiatry and parental guidance and counseling.

“I’m very troubled by it and very disappointed,” he said. “I think it’s much too short notice for us to find a sufficient, appropriate space in the community to house our program. It’s also extremely disruptive to our children to have to move out in the middle of the school year. It would create a highly traumatic situation for them and would damage their emotional, psychological well-being.”

Lamb said he received the notice of termination within the past month, when Dr. Peter Nelson, CEO of Addabbo Center, was informed by the hospital center’s new CEO Todd Miller.

He said they were given three months to vacate the premises.

“If we don’t have a place to go, we’ll be homeless. We’ll have to suspend our operations,” he said. “There have been some leads for new locations,but nothing is concrete and nothing has proven yet to be a viable option.”

Peninsula officials said the space is needed to expand the hospital’s emergency room.

“The hospital felt that was adequate enough time to move,” said Liz Sulik, director of external affairs. “That’s the time they needed to get going with their own plans. Beginning in January, I believe they anticipate needing the space.”

Sulik said hospital officials were very conscious of the time it would take for program officials to find a new location and offered to help facilitate the move.

“When notice was given, the hospital took everything into consideration. I think they did everything possible, even delay their own plans to move forward,” she said. “Hopefully they will find adequate space so that the program can be moved in an orderly fashion and not cause any disruption for the students.”

But parent Juana Ruiz said disruption is imminent for her 13-year-old son, who suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

“I really don’t feel good about this. He doesn’t cope well with changes. He doesn’t adjust to movement because of his condition. I’m worried that he’s not going to do as well once they move him,” she said.

Ruiz said ever since her son began going to the center, he has improved so much that he has become “one of the best kids in there.”

“They know they’re dealing with mentally-ill children,” she said of hospital officials. “If they knew how much damage they’re doing to these kids, they would give the center more time. How can you pick up a kid and tell him, ‘This is not your school anymore. We have to move you out.’ They’re not doing damage to the owners or the people who run the program — they’re doing damage to our children.”

Now, frustrated parents and program officials plan to compose a formal letter to the hospital. Lamb said he hopes to earn if not a permanent stay, more time — at least until next summer — to move.

“We rallied to save the hospital, to help them continue, and now they’re pulling us out,” Ruiz said.