Tag Archives: St. John’s Episcopal

Doctors of the World to open free clinic in the Rockaways

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Doctors of the World,

Doctors of the World are coming local – to the Rockaways, intending to boost the area’s health care.

The international network of doctors has 14 locations worldwide which combined work in 79 countries and recently signed a lease to open a free primary health care clinic at 2-30 Beach 102nd Street, making the Rockaways the only U.S. site.

“The Rockaways have a severe shortage of health care services available to them,” said Noah Barth, program coordinator. “[It also has] a long history of being excluded or not given enough attention from city and state resources.”

At the clinic, Doctors of the World will provide free service to the public, including the uninsured, thanks to a reliable donation foundation.

“Health care is a fundamental right,” Barth said. “We see our work as filling a gap.”

St. John’s Episcopal has been the lone hospital left on the peninsula since the closing of Peninsula Hospital in April 2012. The community at large has voiced the need for more health care facilities.

At St. John’s, the emergency room at times has gotten overrun with patients, but “on the whole we have been doing okay,” said hospital officials. Post-Sandy complications and the summer’s heat wave have brought in patients with lung issues, including asthma and COPD.

In the Rockaways, the high concentration of seniors and public housing facilities creates a high need for services that the community is not getting, including storm-related treatment, Barth said.

“There is a chronic shortage of a lot of things,” he said.

Additionally, Doctors of the World has done community outreach to determine just how to cater to their future patients.

“We want to try and really understand from the community level what the situation is, what the needs are and what the community wants, as opposed to telling them what they want,” Barth said.

There is no definitive timetable as to when the clinic will open, but is projected to open within a couple of months.



Death knell for Peninsula Hospital

| mchan@queenscourier.com


Peninsula Hospital has been sent to the morgue.

The foundering Far Rockaway facility has officially shut its doors for good, officials said.

The State Department of Health (DOH) did not return calls for comment, but former board members said the institution closed after 5 p.m. on Monday, April 9.

“It’s a shame, and it’s terrible for the people of Rockaway,” said former board member Joe Mure. “It’s really sad what has happened with this hospital.”

Peninsula submitted a closure plan to the DOH, which as of April 3 was still under review, according to agency spokesperson Jeffrey Hammond. While trustee Lori Lapin Jones determined on March 26 to shut down operations at the hospital, Hammond said at the time there was no time frame as to when the hospital would close.

The community has held nightly rallies in protest of closure, even marching en masse in front of DOH Commissioner Nirav Shah’s Manhattan office as recently as Wednesday, April 4.

“It’s devastating. The impact that closing this institution will have on our community is going to be enormous,” said Dr. Ed Williams, president of the Far Rockaway NAACP. “Despite what a lot of folks who are actually orchestrators in terms of closing the hospital say, people will certainly die in this community with just one hospital. The fatalities are going to be incredible.”

Williams said he nervously anticipates beach season — and potential drownings — at the Rockaways, which he said sees close to 10,000 visitors each week during the summer.

St. John’s Episcopal is now the only hospital on the peninsula, serving more than 100,000 residents. According to Mure, its emergency department has been placed on diversion several times since Peninsula’s closure, and Democratic Assembly District Leader Lew Simon alleged at least three people have already died on their way to St. John’s — a facility he said is “obviously busting at the seams.”

“They have too many people in their emergency room,” Mure said. “In an emergency situation, they have to leave the area. That could be a matter of life and death.”

A St. John’s spokesperson said the hospital was only on diversion for an hour on Monday, April 9. CEO Nelson Toebbe said operations at the hospital are running “smoothly.” He said plans are in the works to hire more workers and expand the 257-bed hospital.

“To meet this challenge requires everyone to pull together. St. John’s asks for everyone’s support and understanding in the coming months,” Toebbe said.

Peninsula was pinned for critical deficiencies and failed state health inspections on February 23, which forced the hospital to temporarily halt its emergency care services and stop admitting new patients.

At least two different investors expressed interest in saving the hospital, Mure said — including Chicago-based People’s Choice Hospital — but rescue efforts were too little, too late. The DOH has also revoked Peninsula’s certificate of operation, which Simon said renders the potential saviors moot regardless.

“I think if we had more time and more money, things could have been different,” Mure said.

Jones did not return calls for comment.

Rockaway Beach resident Barbara Reiche, 67, said her husband suffers from asbestosis and diabetes. He has been in and out of Peninsula within the last year-and-a-half, she said.

“With that hospital closing, if St. John’s and Jamaica Hospital are on diversion, then the closest hospital is like 45 minutes from here. He would never make it any further than Peninsula. I don’t know what’s going to happen to him if he has to go the hospital again,” Reiche said, fighting through tears.

Peninsula Hospital to close

| mchan@queenscourier.com


Officials plan to pull the plug on Peninsula Hospital.

The floundering Far Rockaway facility is required to submit a closure plan to the state’s Department of Health (DOH), said Michael Moran, a spokesperson for the agency.

News of the termination came after a long series of unshakable bankruptcy battles and instability at the hospital.

Failed state health inspections found the hospital’s lab to be “a danger and threat” to patients on February 23, which forced the hospital to temporarily halt its emergency care services and stop admitting new patients.

Peninsula then had to lay off over 240 employees this month in order to conserve cash while the hospital was “on diversion,” according to officials.

A court-ordered bankruptcy trustee — Long Island attorney Lori Lapin Jones — was recently appointed to take over all operations at Peninsula. She determined on March 26, according to bankruptcy court files, that revival was not in the cards for Peninsula.

The sudden news has even thrown Borough President Helen Marshall off guard.

“I was assured in writing [on] March 12 that [State Commissioner of Health] Nirav Shah’s office was working closely with Peninsula Hospital to provide support to their efforts to come back into compliance. That makes [this] announcement particularly bewildering,” she said. “There is a medical crisis in Rockaway. One hospital is now responsible for the care of more than 100,000 residents living on a peninsula that has limited access and egress options.”

Marshall said her office commissioned a study in 2006, finding the healthcare delivery system in Queens not to be sustainable in its current state. She said she recommended there should be “one new comprehensive hospital built in the Rockaways.”

“No one listened,” Marshall said. “We now have a situation where reports have surfaced that St. John’s Hospital is turning people away, while nearby Peninsula Hospital is laying off approximately 1,000 individuals.”

St. John’s Episcopal Hospital has been absorbing the brunt of Peninsula’s patient since the lab shut down last month.

According to CEO Nelson Toebbe, the hospital “stands ready to meet the healthcare needs of the community.”

Toebbe said St. John’s is currently waiting for state approval for plans to expand its emergency room, ambulatory care, surgery, intensive care and in-patient facilities.

“Assuming state approval is granted quickly, those steps should be complete in the coming months,” he said. “We have been working diligently with the DOH to obtain approvals for expanded capacity within our facilities, since talks of the potential Peninsula Hospital Center closure began months ago. We will move as fast as possible subject to required reviews and access to capital.”

DOH officials said the agency would monitor operations at Peninsula to ensure an orderly closure, while working with other providers to make sure patients have access to services that will be closing and making sure medical records are transferred to appropriate providers upon the request of patients.

Moran said there is no time frame yet as to when Peninsula’s doors will close for good.

“The hospital needs to put together and file a closure plan,” he said. “We will have to wait to see that.”

Peninsula Hospital declined to comment.