Push to reopen, rename Parkway Hospital

| smosco@queenscourier.com |

If one hospital advocate gets his way, a former Queens Country Clerk will have her name immortalized on a Forest Hills hospital.

Gloria D’Amico, who served Queens in various capacities for over 40 years and passed away last December, will have her name emblazoned on a newly reopened Parkway Hospital – if John Krall can get local and state politicians on board.

“She [D’Amico] was instrumental in helping Queens in a lot of ways and she worked hard against closing Parkway Hospital,” said Krall. “After she passed away, we began this thought process during her wake. And her family was honored by the idea.”

However, before the hospital can be named in her honor, Krall must first clear the obstacle of reopening the hospital, which closed in November, 2008. The hospital was shuttered after it was chosen for closure by the New York State Commission on Healthcare Facilities in the 21st Century, known as the Berger commission.

The hospital’s owner, Dr. Robert Aquino, chose to fight the closure in court and in the process lost out on millions in state aid. Krall said that many will not argue on behalf of Parkway because of the tainted nature of its name – but to him, this hospital is too important to let slip away.

“I’m hoping they [elected officials] come on board and understand the value of this facility and its value to the community,” he said, adding that Queens residents are severely underserved in terms of hospital beds. “And this building is centrally located between LaGuardia and Kennedy airports and across from Flushing Meadow Park Lake. This makes it very valuable in terms of homeland security as well.”

Krall said he has funding in place from a private investor, but needs elected officials in Albany to grant him a temporary license so he can bypass the Certificate of Need (CON) process. Krall said that this process can take up to two years to pass through the City Council, which Krall believes is far too long.

With a temporary license from state officials, Krall believes the Gloria D’Amico Medical Center could be up and running in four to six months.

“Queens is completely under bedded,” he said. “Not only would this hospital help Queens medical patients, but it would also employ at least 1,000 people.”

Krall sent his request to Congressmember Anthony Weiner, Senator Shirley Huntley, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, Borough President Helen Marshall, Councilmember Karen Koslowitz and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“Considering the rash of recent closures of hospitals in Queens, we are trying to find ways to be supportive of adding hospital beds back into the community,” said Hevesi. “With that said, we are exploring the best ways to help Parkway hospital appropriately service our community. Gloria D’Amico dedicated her life to public service and it is our hope that a new hospital in the area will be able to carry on her legacy.”