Two Queens hospitals set to close next month began limiting patients admitted for care Tuesday as workers continue to make their voices heard. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
Days after receiving notice their hospital was closing, employees at Mary Immaculate and St. John's Queens Hospitals got another memo. This time, it was to inform them that St. Johns is no longer an emergency ambulance destination for pediatric patients.
"This is a travesty. How do you close a hospital that's full to capacity," said Kim Zambrata, a worker at St. John's.
But there is more bad news. Caritas Healthcare, the company that operates both hospitals, says starting Saturday they will stop admitting patients altogether. The two hospitals see about 100,000 people in their emergency rooms every year, and Elmhurst residents say they are devastated by how quickly things are moving.
"I don't understand how they could close a hospital in such a heavily populated area such as this. It's ridiculous. I don't know the politics behind this, but someone needs to do something about this right away," said Dave Herbert, an Elmhurst resident.
Over in Jamaica, Mary Immaculate Hospital workers and residents voiced their concerns as well.
"That's going to be unfortunate. There are a lot of old people over here who have emergencies," said Ashley Johnson, a Jamaica resident.
"It's really sad. I've been working here 16 and a half years and it shouldn't be closed because the neighborhood needs this hospital. All the people come here for all kinds of sickness, kids and adults," said Latif Elessawi, a worker at Mary Immaculate.
The hospitals are set to close entirely next month, putting 2,500 employees out of work. But workers say they are not giving up without a fight. They plan to rally in Albany to try to convince the state to provide more aid to the hospitals.
Caritas has received more than $50 million in state funding in recent years and the state provided another $6 million this week to help the company meet its current payroll.
"Is to really have the politicians see face to face the people who are gonna be affected, the people who are providing the care for the registered voters and the community that we provide health care to," said Carlos Quiles, a worker at St. John's.
Unfortunately, new aid does not seem likely at this point. The state says it cannot afford to provide any more financial support as it works to close a massive budget deficit.