Peninsula Hospital’s problems persist

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A sinking Peninsula Hospital has had to throw more than 200 workers overboard in a buoyant effort to stay afloat.

Roughly 240 hospital employees were temporarily laid off, officials said, as the embattled facility continues to struggle with bankruptcy and emergency service shut downs. The sudden terminations were instituted short-term, officials said, in order to conserve cash while the hospital is “on diversion.”

Peninsula was forced to halt its emergency care services for a period of 30 days after failed state health inspections found the hospital’s lab to be “a danger and threat” to patients on February 23.

A second state mandate also ordered the hospital to stop admitting new patients, cancel all surgeries and procedures and suspend any activities that depend upon laboratory services while a plan to transfer inpatients to other facilities was developed.

However, patients can still be treated at the hospital, so long as no blood work is required, officials said.

Peninsula officials said they are aggressively taking action and working with experts in the field to bring the lab up to par — which essentially means building a new one from the ground up, they said. Officials hope to reopen within two weeks contingent on state approval.

“It’s a big job, but we are working around the clock to get all of the necessary changes completed,” said Todd Miller, CEO of Peninsula. “All elements in the Department of Health’s survey of the lab are expected to be addressed by the hospital by week’s end. Once these initiatives are complete, the hospital is hopeful that the Department of Health will quickly lift the diversion of the hospital through a satisfactory review of our corrective action plan.”

Meanwhile, a U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy trustee has been appointed to take over all operations at the Far Rockaway facility — rendering Miller and the board of directors moot in the interim.

Attorney Howard Fensterman, who represents Peninsula, said hospital officials have consented to the court-ordered change. He said the appointment of a trustee would not be “detrimental” and would in fact help the hospital move forward in its plans to re-emerge from bankruptcy.

“The hospital needed to refocus its efforts,” he said. “The dispute regarding the appointment of a trustee was detracting from valuable time, effort and energy that needed to be allocated toward reopening and correcting the lab problems.”

While a specific trustee has not yet been chosen, Fensterman said the hospital is still on track to exit bankruptcy in approximately 60 days.