Police have apprehended an Arverne man who escaped from a Far Rockaway hospital after he was charged with petit larceny and resisting arrest.
George Jordan, 36, was arrested at about 5:40 p.m. Friday and was being treated at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for a prior condition, officials said, but was able to free himself from handcuffs at about 11 p.m. and flee from the institution.
Cops caught Jordan around 9:30 p.m. Saturday inside a home across the street from the hospital.
The phrase was repeated numerous times by leaders of the hospital during the meet-and-greet event, which featured hospital chair Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, CEO Richard Brown, a representative from the State Department of Health, and Steve Kramer, executive vice president of the hospital’s employees’ union, 1199 SEIU.
State Senator James Sanders put the forum together to allow residents a face-to-face conference with the leaders to answer the community’s concerns about the future of the hospital.
Instead of closing, everyone in the room was focused on how the hospital and health care in the Rockaways would expand.
“My job is to make sure that nobody deviates from the path,” Sanders said. “The bottom line is we are going to save this hospital and we are heading north.”
Brown announced updates on the expansion of the hospital’s emergency department.
The project will cost an estimated $9 – $10 million, and double the size of the emergency department. The construction will be carried out in three phases over nearly two years. The expansion is lengthy because the emergency department will continue to stay open during construction.
Residents, who have complained the department is too small, hope the expansion could happen sooner.
“Yes, it’s terrible,” said Rockaway resident Anita Hunter, who was born in the hospital and whose sister currently works there. “You can barely walk in there. There are so many people lined up outside the examination room.”
Residents also used the forum to hasten the possible merger between the hospital and Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which would allow St. John’s to expand its services and resources.
Brown said the merger was still in the discussion phase. He said metaphorically that St. John’s is “dating” the Long Island organization, but not yet “married” to them.
“What we in this room are looking for is to see St. John’s be a first class hospital,” Kramer said. “We ask you, Bishop and CEO Brown, to make moves as quickly as possible to expedite the merger.”
Perhaps the most exciting statement made at the meeting, though, was Sanders declaring he would like to see the shuttered Peninsula Hospital used as an additional emergency department. The room was immediately filled with cheers.
“I didn’t take this job to lose,” Sanders said. “I didn’t come on to be in charge of the dismantling of health care in the Rockaways. I believe in this place and I believe we can do better.”
Thursday: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 29. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Some clouds. Low 18. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.
EVENT OF THE DAY: The Powerful Arts of Cameroon
The Powerful Arts of Cameroon: the Collection of Amadou Njoya is a display of artifacts of the African Tribal Arts Kingdom at the QCC Art Gallery. The potent beauty of celebratory festivals, initiations and other traditional rituals will be conveyed through masterful objects made of wood, metal and terra cotta in the exhibit. Amadou Njoya is a fourth generation Cameroonian born into a family of distinguished artisans and advisors for the royal family of the Kingdom of Bamum. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own
Far Rockaway mom charged in fatal beating of 2-year-old daughter
A Far Rockaway mother has been arrested for murder after allegedly beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday. Read more: The Queens Courier
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Ashley Diaz, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
On Monday, at about 5:30 p.m., Diaz asked a neighbor to watch her daughter, Kevasia Edward, while she left her Beach 56th Place apartment for approximately 20 minutes to buy food, according to Brown.
While the neighbor was babysitting the toddler, the girl, who had been sleeping, allegedly woke up and appeared slightly pale and lethargic. The child said she was fine, but didn’t show any obvious signs of trauma to her face, the district attorney said.
Later that night, at about 11:15 p.m., Diaz called the neighbor, saying that her daughter was not breathing. When the neighbor showed up to the apartment she allegedly found the child lying on the floor unresponsive and began to administer CPR. She then allegedly noticed Kevasia’s face was red and bruised, her lip was bleeding and her teeth pushed in and jutting out in different directions and missing, Brown said.
The neighbor’s sister then called 9-1-1, after learning the mother never did. Kevasia was taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, arriving in cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead just after midnight.
According to medical personnel at the hospital, Brown said, Kevasia had old and fresh bruising on her face, legs and torso, two rib fractures and scarring on her right foot consistent with a prior burn. Those injuries, however, were inconsistent with a story Diaz gave about her child having a seizure and falling to the ground.
Diaz allegedly said that her daughter was in good health and acting normal while she was her sole caregiver, from approximately Friday through Monday, with the exception of the time when the neighbor was watching her child.
She also allegedly said that at 9:30 p.m. Monday her daughter had a seizure and fell to the ground, Brown said. During that time, she allegedly admitted she sat with Kevasia for at least 30 minutes while she was unresponsive and not breathing, and did not call anyone for help until after 11 p.m. that night.
According to the autopsy report, Brown said, Kevasia allegedly suffered multiple fresh and old bruising to her face, neck, torso and legs, multiple scalp abrasions and lacerations, multiple scars of varying ages about her body and other markings consistent with trauma. The report’s preliminary medical findings were also consistent with abusive head trauma with multiple, violent impacts to her head and body, he said.
“St. John’s is the only healthcare facility available to serve nearly 100,000 families on the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “We must ensure that St. John’s has the tools necessary to protect its current services and expand in order to serve our community and keep our families healthy for many years to come.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $1.2 billion in his executive budget for healthcare facilities. Goldfeder requested a portion of that be reserved for St. John’s.
During the superstorm, the hospital worked on “caring for the many sick, elderly and homeless community members who entered our doors seeking shelter and medical assistance, and not the cost or how it would be recouped,” said Richard Brown, St. John’s CEO.
“These much-needed funds would help our recovery and aid us in upholding our mission of service to the people of the Rockaways,” he said.
Doctors of the World has officially opened its doors, and the Rockaways have a new, free health clinic during a time some have called a “health crisis in the borough.”
This is the first and only location in the country for Doctors of the World, which offers services in 79 other countries. Set at 2-30 Beach 102nd Street, it provides free primary medical services.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response so far,” said Dr. Amber Featherstone, medical director at the new clinic.
Featherstone previously worked overseas in Africa with Doctors Without Borders, and is excited to continue work with an international organization. She said she sees some parallels with patients stateside and those abroad.
“Patients don’t have access to good care,” she said. “They wait until they’re really sick to get care, or they care for themselves as best they can, but they are not able to fully fund the medication they need. The problems become more complicated because of that.”
Featherstone hopes that she and her team can get patients “some kind of medical insurance coverage, or help them get more stabilized in care,” she said, and be available to the people who aren’t getting the “continuous care they need.”
Currently, the Rockaway office, aside from Featherstone, has a clinic manager and a nurse manager. They are looking for volunteers, including medical providers, nurse practitioners, nursing staff, medical assistants and anybody who can perform administrative services.
“Especially people who are local and want to give something back,” Featherstone said.
As of now, operating hours are Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Featherstone expects those days and hours to increase if they maintain the current customer volume. They are already booked solid for the next two weeks.
The majority of their clientele, Featherstone said, are patients needing a full, physical exam. “People who have been out of care, trying to hold it together for medical coverage,” she said.
A handful of patients prior to visiting Doctors of the World were paying out of pocket for things such as diabetes medicine. Now, Doctors is trying to establish partnerships with medical providers so as to ease the cost for patients.
The group has already formed a partnership with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for lower radiology rates, as well as Rite Aid for Medicaid rates.
However, for the first month of care, Doctors of the World is able to cover medication cost, but they “don’t have the funding to continue to cover long-term,” Featherstone said. They are hoping to get more funding for “that particular cost in the near future.”
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.
Wednesday: Clear. High of 79. Breezy. Winds from the NW at 10 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Clear. Low of 61. Winds from the NW at 5 to 15 mph.
EVENT OF THE DAY: Outdoor Night Market at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden
Astoria Market invites you to the second Night Market at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. The market will be held on Wednesday, August 14 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Local bands will be performing, the outdoor grill will be open and there will be drink specials throughout the evening. Stroll through 30 vendors selling unique wares such as art, jewelry, toys, all natural soaps, cookies, and crocheted bags. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own
NYCHA behind schedule on spending $50 million allocated by City Council for repairs: report
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Rockaway Peninsula may lose its last hospital as St. John’s Episcopal starts closing units
Code blue! The only hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula is in critical condition after the closure of units and growing uncertainty surrounding the facility’s finances. Read more: New York Daily News
A fine myth dispelled: City collecting less cash for violations
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Justice department, states challenge American Airlines, US Airways merger
The Justice Department and attorneys general in six states and Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the proposed $11 billion merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways, while at the same time possibly throwing AA’s bankruptcy process into disarray. Read more: NBC New York
Throughout Sandy and its aftermath, the residents, patients and staff of the Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation remained safe and comfortable, and programs and services went on as scheduled.
“The dedication of Parker’s staff, combined with years of careful emergency planning and preparedness drills [empowered] Parker, literally, to weather the storm,” said Michael N. Rosenblut, President and CEO.
Outside of the New Hyde Park facility, Parker also responded to requests for assistance in areas of New York City and Nassau County, and cared for evacuees from Brooklyn’s Shore View Nursing Home, Far Rockaway’s St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and Long Beach’s Komanoff Center for Geriatric and Rehabilitation Medicine.
Aside from patient care, Parker also published and disseminated regular information bulletins and established a 24-hour hotline to update the surrounding communities on services related to the storm. Also, similar to Hurricane Irene, Parker’s medical transportation division, Lakeville Ambulette Transportation, LLC, and its staff provided key assistance to many displaced by the storm.
Additionally, Parker’s gift shop became an official Community Voting Center to facilitate voting for the November presidential elections, not only for its own residents and patients, but also for evacuees who were being cared for at Parker, and for community residents whose polling locations were impacted by the storm.
St. John’s Episcopal Hospital received a $5 million shot in the arm from the state, after the sudden closure of Peninsula Hospital left emergency health care in the Far Rockaway community strained, officials said.
A $5,357,680 grant will be awarded to St. John’s thanks to New York State’s Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law (HEAL NY), said Nelson Toebbe, the hospital’s CEO.
“We are very pleased to have received notification of this significant HEAL grant,” Toebbe said. “It addresses important concerns of our community’s residents toward creating more immediate access to health care in our area since the closure of Peninsula Hospital, and of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in its ongoing commitment to serving the community with quality care.”
Peninsula shuttered this April, leaving St. John’s the only hospital in Rockaway to serve more than 100,000 residents. Since the closure, St. John’s has had a 35 percent spike in patient visits to its emergency department, an approximate 11 percent increase in its inpatient volume and an 85 percent rise in its regular occupancy rates, said spokesperson Penny Chin.
The hospital’s emergency services were briefly diverted mid-May, as well as for an hour on the day Peninsula permanently closed in April, but Chin did not say whether St. John’s has experienced a diversion since then.
“St. John’s is attempting to provide care for 130,000 year-round residents, in addition to the influx of tourists that travel to our area in the summer months, and this can’t be adequately done without an increase in capacity,” said Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, who said he was closely involved in negotiations between Governor Andrew Cuomo and state agencies to secure the funding. “It’s only the first step to getting the Rockaways back where it needs to be in relation to health care, but it’s a great, great first start.”
The award is part of the final round of grants under the state’s existing Medicaid 1115 Waiver, which expires March 31, 2014. Funds are allocated through the New York State Department of Health and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
Officials said the grant would enable St. John’s to expand the hospital’s emergency department, which would include converting the inpatient space to outpatient and ambulatory care and creating an observation unit in the department.
While Peninsula Hospital struggles to stabilize itself financially, elected officials say they’re worried for already “overburdened” area hospitals receiving the brunt of patient overflow.
“Other hospitals are overtaxed and overburdened as it is,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “St. John’s [Episcopal Hospital] was overburdened when Peninsula was completely opened. Now that it’s closed, I can’t imagine the patient load they have to deal with.”
According to Liz Sulik, a spokesperson for Peninsula, the hospital has transferred approximately 78 patients so far. She said they were moved to a “variety of hospitals” including the North Shore/LIJ Health system, based upon their acuity levels.
However, because of Peninsula’s “isolated geographic area” and recent hospital closures over the past few years, Senator Joseph Addabbo said there are few other facilities in the area that could openly receive the patient excess.
“Every second counts when we talk about emergencies and providing health care to residents. The need just gets magnified when you think about Peninsula’s geographic location. St. John’s cannot handle the entire peninsula,” Addabbo said. “We’re already seeing a reduction in hospital beds with a growing senior population and people moving into the communities. We certainly need these beds. Now is not the time to reduce them.”
But according to CEO Nelson Toebbe, St. John’s has flourished in the face of chaos.
“While it is regrettable that Peninsula General Hospital has closed, St. John’s has been able to fully accommodate the increase of patients,” he said. “Measures have been initiated in the past several months to enhance capacity, service and access to both inpatient and outpatient care. The board of managers, management and staff of Episcopal Health Services remain strongly committed to serve the healthcare needs of the Rockaways and the Five Towns.”
Back in August, when Peninsula faced potential closure threats after its former sponsor MediSys decided to end its affiliation with the hospital, St. John’s received permission from the state to begin expansion of its emergency room outpatient care, surgery, intensive care and in-patient facilities, according to Toebbe.
The added emergency department bays and 62 new medical, surgical, pediatric critical care beds helped house the extra patients, officials said.
Still, local politicians continue to push for Peninsula’s reopening.
“Southern Queens and the Rockaways need access to quality health care,” Goldfeder said. “Whatever problems there are, we need to get the right people in the hospital to resolve them and get the hospital back up and running.”