2000-04-01 / Columnists

From The G-Man...by Gary Toms

From The G-Man

St. John's Hospital: In Critical Condition

Hey people! Maybe it’s a strange coincidence, but I’ve been getting a number of complaints about St. John’s Hospital here in Far Rockaway. Many are outraged by what they describe as incredibly poor health care service and unsafe conditions within the facility. After speaking with members of the staff, as well as patients, it is abundantly clear that the time has come for state and local representatives to get involved, and I hope they do so quickly.

One woman I spoke to described an ordeal her daughter had gone through a couple of months ago. She told me that her daughter went to the hospital, around 6:30 p.m., to have x-rays taken of her nine year old son. He suffered a severe ankle sprain while playing at an after-school center. Hours had passed, and the mother began to wonder why she hadn't heard from her daughter. She called the emergency room at 11:30 p.m., and the boy still had not been seen by a doctor. When she asked to speak to the nurse in charge, no one ever came to the phone. She called back, but this time the phone was left to ring repeatedly. Her daughter finally arrived home at 2:00 am.

Marsha Thurmond-Holland, a medical transcriptionist from the Far Rockaway area, has worked in the medical field for the past 15 years, and she experienced the horrible and horrendous conditions of the hospital as well. She stated that one Sunday morning she felt ill. She went to St. John’s to be cared for, and no one was available but the security guard. He took her into the emergency room, and they were greeted by a nurse who angrily responded, "I have no time for this. I’m busy! What do you think, I’m the only one who works here!" Mrs. Holland states, "Now I was there for chest pain, and thank goodness it was nothing serious, but how dare she! When anyone gets sick to the point where they feel they must go the local ER, they should be treated with respect and dignity, not like wild animals. I was too sick to let this person have it, but this I assure you will not go unnoticed or unpunished. I’m sorry to say this, but people with that kind of mentality have no business in the health care industry. The entire staff, when they finally made an appearance, seemed too tired to do any work!"

I sensed Mrs. Holland’s anger and resentment toward the situation, and the next thing she told me nearly made me sick to my stomach. "This ER staff allowed a mentally disturbed man to walk freely around the emergency room: without his right ear! No bandages or anything. The wound was open for all to see. It was oozing pus, and the smell was unbearable. This made me, and a few others, extremely sick! It was only when I threatened to call the media that something was finally done. Within minutes, the patient was strapped to his bed, and all of a sudden everyone was on duty! Can you believe this mess? No wonder why that hospital is always under fire."

I have two very good friends that happen to work at St. John’s, and they have expressed their anger and frustration regarding what is happening there. They talked of how monies are not being allocated to the appropriate areas of the hospital, medications are wrongly distributed from time to time, and how dirty syringes and gauze pads are left lying on the examination and emergency room floors. Needless to say, I was shocked. I can even recall a time when one of my family members visited the ER, and she told me how a man had gotten very sick in the room. He "lost his lunch" all over the floor and not one person came out to clean it up! It was left there for quite some time, and when she threatened to call hospital authorities, the mess was quickly cleaned up.

Another thing I heard, just a few days ago, was how the hospital has to close an enormous financial gap due to fiscal problems, and the way that this was being done was by jacking up the fees at the patient's expense. Don’t take my word for it. This came from the inside folks! Many people have complained to me about being charged twice for a service rendered once, or they simply have been overcharged. I can attest to this because I just received a bill, and sure enough I was charged twice for something. I even got charged for a service I never received! I spent two days in St. John’s, where very little was done, and I was billed over $5,000! I’m still trying to figure that one out.

I’ll tell you what I have figured out. These doctors have one hell of a racket going! When I was in for sciatica, a lower back problem, a number of doctors came into my room. They never stated what their specialty was, but they poked and prodded my legs as though they were neurologists. I knew better. They came into my room with the intention of locating a fee for service, even though I had already seen my primary care physician and his assistant. So you see, there was really no need for these clowns to check me out. I realize that this article will not go over well with the staff or administration of St. John’s, but I want to remind them of something. Don’t shoot the messenger! I would not be able to write about these situations if people did not report them to me. I’m not trying to bring you down. If anything, I’m letting you know that people in the community have major concerns regarding your facility, and you need to address those concerns.

Far Rockaway needs this hospital, and with some effort, and input, from all of the major players that keep it functional, St. John’s can become one of the greatest hospitals this state has ever seen. So to all those decision-makers, scrub up because it’s time to operate!

You can hit me at

GeeMan1025@aol.com for comments as usual. I’ll see you next week!

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