Peninsula Hospital, one of two hospitals in Far Rockaway, may soon be shuttered. It would be the fourth Queens hospital to close in the last several years, and southern Queens residents would lose 200 hospital beds and nearly 1,000 jobs.
According to several reports, Peninsula Hospital, like many other hospitals in the region, is undergoing a severe financial crisis after cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.
“Cuts in Medicaid reduce the reimbursements that the hospitals get for the patients who have insurance to start with,” Dr. Wayne Dodakian of Peninsula Hospital told NY1. “But the bigger problem is patients come to our hospital without any insurance at all of any kind. They are self-paid. They don’t have jobs. But we never turn them away. So consequently we pay for their treatment, essentially working for free.”
Local residents are worried that Peninsula’s closing could have devastating affects.
“The Peninsula Hospital E.R. is presently only a three mile ambulance ride from Broad Channel,” said Peter Mahon of the West 12th Road Block Association. “Should Peninsula Hospital close, the only remaining emergency room treatment centers available to our community would be St. John’s in Far Rockaway, 5.25 [miles from] Broad Channel and Jamaica Hospital Center, over 10 miles away.”
Mahon said he intends to reach out to local elected representatives to determine how a potential closure would affect the community and also plans to speak with the Broad Channel Volunteer Fire and Medical Services.
Several years ago, both Queens Borough Hall and a statewide commission recommended Peninsual Hospital merge with its parent hospital St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. Those calls went unheeded, and now St. John’s Episcopal may become the only hospital to serve the Rockaways.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has called for an emergency meeting with state health officials to explain the future of local healthcare to residents. She also decried the growing health crisis in Queens.
“Once again, Queens will now lose more beds and the bleeding of Queens’ hospitals will continue,” Marshall said.
In 2008, Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills closed, and in 2009, St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica shut their doors.
by Eric Yun