Community won’t give up on Peninsula Hospital


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

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While efforts to resuscitate Peninsula Hospital have flatlined, the Rockaway community has not yet pulled the plug on saving it.

“They’re finding a way to shut the doors for no reason. We’re not going to give up until we reopen the hospital,” said Democratic Assembly District Leader Lew Simon.

Following trustee Lori Lapin Jones’ March 26 determination to shut down operations, Peninsula has already submitted a closure plan to the state Department of Health (DOH), which the agency is now reviewing, said spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond.

Hammond said there is no time frame yet as to when the hospital will shut its doors. However, 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members are saying complete closure is slated for Friday, April 5.

While 1199 officials said its members will be enrolled in the union’s Job Security Fund to continue receiving healthcare benefits, employment and placement services, local leaders said the peninsula cannot survive with just one hospital.

The community has held nightly rallies in protest of the hospital trustee and the DOH’s decision to close the hospital. According to Simon, they plan to soon lead a mass demonstration outside the DOH’s headquarters in Manhattan.

The union has also been spreading the word through their Facebook page, “Peninsula Hospital & Our 1199 Coverage Save Our Hospital.” The site reported several interested parties are looking to purchase the hospital. However, Peninsula declined to comment.

The foundering Far Rockaway facility was pinned for critical deficiencies and failed state health inspections on February 23, which forced the hospital to temporarily halt its emergency care services and stop admitting new patients. Peninsula also laid off more than 240 employees last month.