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Far Rockaway's Peninsula Hospital Faces Closure

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TWC News: Far Rockaway's Peninsula Hospital Faces Closure
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Following a deep financial crisis, the Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway might be shutting down, leading to the potential loss of about 200 hospital beds and 1,000 jobs. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Peninsula Hospital may be shutting its doors, which has raised serious concerns about medical services for the 100,000 people who live in the Rockaways.

"We don't have enough doctors as it is,” said City Councilman James Sanders of Queens. “To close one of the major hospitals out here is tantamount to saying that there will be an acceptable amount of people who won't make it."

People familiar with the situation say the decision was put in motion at a board meeting Friday. Peninsula owes vendors roughly $13 million and continues to lose money.

"Cuts in Medicaid reduce the reimbursements that the hospitals get for the patients who have insurance to start with,” said Dr. Wayne Dodakian of Peninsula Hospital. “But a 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."

Far Rockaway is also served by St. John's Episcopal Hospital. In 2006, a statewide hospital commission recommended that St. Johns and Peninsula merge to share costs.

That was never done.

"That was a fatal mistake. We should have paid heed to the Berger Commission,” said Sanders.

In the meantime, residents said they worry about people who live here, including relatives who could soon have fewer options for medical care.

"I have a parent who lives in Far Rockaway who suffered a grave stroke, and we are here because it is the most geographically convenient hospital. And now we have to move here somewhere else,” said one resident.

Queens residents have been through this before. Peninsula would be the fourth hospital in the borough to close since 2008.

A meeting was held last week in Albany to try and find resolution, but one could not be reached. That means the 200-bed facility could shut its doors within 90 days, putting 1,000 people out of work.

In a Tuesday statement, 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said its union members were participating in ongoing discussions about the hospital's future, with the goal of saving as many services and jobs as possible.

The statement by 1199 SEIU concluded, "The possible loss or downscale of another acute care hospital would only worsen the existing healthcare crisis in Queens. This situation is further proof that safety net hospitals are struggling for survival as they continue to provide essential services to the community and save lives.”

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