Rockaway residents fear losing community’s last hospital


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.
Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

Rockaway residents don't want to see another community in the city lose a hospital.

The Peninsula’s lone hospital is in critical condition.

Rockaway residents fear financial problems at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital will close the last safety net hospital in their community.

“Queens is a healthy borough, but we can’t continue to grow if we continue to lose hospitals,” said Peter Vallone, Jr., city councilmember and borough president candidate.

If St. John’s Episcopal were to close its doors, the nearest hospital, Jamaica Hospital, is more than a 20-minute drive away.

Changes, however, have already been made at St. John’s, which declined to disclose its financial situation to The Courier.

The detox unit has closed and several clinics and nursing homes are being outsourced, according to hospital officials.

Richard Brown, the hospital’s Interim Chief Operating Officer, said the unit’s closure will allow space for “much-needed” medical and surgical beds in the 257-bed building.

Additionally, St. John’s Family Practice, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics clinics have begun collaborative initiatives with the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Centers.

However, St. John’s is “considering all necessary action, including possible layoffs” to maintain the hospital’s stability.

“We cannot let community healthcare disappear from the Rockaways,” said Bill de Blasio, public advocate, mayoral candidate and a staunch supporter of outer borough hospitals. “We have to stop these free-fall closures that hollow out neighborhood healthcare.”

The hospital board is also exploring merger options with other health systems. The community hopes for a merger with major hospital chain North Shore LIJ, but Brown said no overtures between the two have been made.

 

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