Trustee named, Peninsula expects to exit bankruptcy


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

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The court-ordered bankruptcy trustee appointed to take over all operations at Peninsula Hospital has been named, federal officials said.

Lori Lapin Jones — a Long Island bankruptcy law attorney — was chosen by the U.S. Trustee’s office, an agency under the U.S. Department of Justice, to head the embattled Far Rockaway facility.

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“The trustee who was selected was a very good choice. She’s an extraordinarily competent bankruptcy attorney who has tremendous experience serving as a trustee,” said Howard Fensterman, Peninsula’s former attorney, who represented the hospital before the court-mandated change. “I look forward to her getting the hospital back open and leading the hospital out of bankruptcy.”

Fensterman said hospital officials had consented to the court-ordered change, and he said he still expects Peninsula to exit bankruptcy in less than 60 days.

Jones currently serves as a Chapter 7 trustee on the panel of Trustees for the Eastern District of New York and as a court-appointed mediator in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

She started her own Great Neck-based law firm — Lori Lapin Jones PLLC — in 2005, representing a wide variety of parties in out-of-court restructurings and in large and small Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 cases in courts around the country.

In 2009, she received the Long Island Business News’ award for being one of the top 50 most influential women in business.

These credentials, Fensterman said, will help her push the hospital toward recovery.

Two weeks ago, roughly 240 employees at Peninsula were temporarily laid off, officials said. The sudden terminations were instituted short-term, they said, in order to conserve cash while the hospital is “on diversion.”

Peninsula was also 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.

Peninsula Hospital declined to comment in regards to the hospital’s new overseer.