1999-08-21 / Editorial/Opinion

Dose Of Medicine Needed

No one should take the St. John's Episcopal Hospital financial crisis lightly. There is no Band-Aid approach to this problem, rather serious measures need to be taken to bring financial stability to the hospital. This requires everyone to put aside their agendas and do what is best for the residents of the community. The administration of St. John's says floor closures, layoffs and delays in payment of benefits to employees are part of their "operational plan" to address the financial problems. Employees don't want to hear this, and with their union, have held demonstrations demanding answers. Both sides keep talking against each other, but both have used the words "what is best for patient care" more than once. So, if "patient care" is the unifying goal, then why not take a break, sit down and begin resolving the matter. First, the administration has to be upfront about the problem. Is there a collection problem on billing? Is there an admission problem? Are doctors admitting their patients at St. John's or sending them some place else? Whether it be one, a combination or other issues affecting the financial future of the hospital, St. John's needs to start offering numbers and details. Corbett Price, the new CEO of Episcopal Health Services, has to leave his desk and cushiony chair in Manhattan and find his way to Far Rockaway. To resolve this problem it takes a hands-on leader, not one who hides in his office and won't speak with residents and elected officials. If the administration is willing to be open with the community, employees and union officials must move beyond the dollars and cents. Bonus payments are well deserved, but if it means the future of the hospital, make the sacrifice. Work with the administration in finding out what can be done to keep St. John's a viable institution. Residents, east to west, must be concerned and vocal. Peninsula Hospital and St. John's do not offer the same services and it is necessary that the peninsula have two fully functional hospitals. Without that, Rockaway would suffer another great loss.

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