2005-02-25 / Editorial/Opinion

The Bottom Line Should Not Determine Hospital Closing

Roughly half of the independent hospitals in New York State lose money each year. For many, that is the bottom line. Lose money, close your doors. Just this week, Crain’s New York Business, a respected newspaper, conducted a survey of hospital CEO’s. That survey, according to the paper, indicated that eight hospitals should be shut down because they are losing money or because they duplicate the services of another, nearby hospital. The Peninsula Hospital Center (PHC) in Rockaway is one of those that made Crain’s “hit list.” It is true that PHC has lost money each of the last two years. That fact is true of many hospitals not on the list. We are not sure why PHC made the list and we have no way of finding out because Crain’s declined to name the CEO’s that took part in the survey. Officials at the hospital point out that the problem is Medicaid and the cuts that have been made in the program over the last few years. “We have a large Medicaid population, a large elderly population that heavily utilizes our hospital,” the official says. “Those cuts have impacted PHC and most other hospitals as well.” The officials point out, rightfully we believe, that the heavy present use of the hospital, coupled with the building boom that will bring thousands of new residents to Rockaway over the next three of four years, demands that all of the health facilities on the peninsula be kept active. We agree. It is probable that many of those who argued that PHC should be shuttered did so based only on that bottom line. They do not know the community or that the hospital center is the peninsula’s largest employer. When Kathleen Lucadamo, a reporter for the Daily News called PHC for comment, she did not even know where Rockaway was (except that it was in Queens) nor did she know about the housing growth in the community. She knew only that the hospital was a losing proposition because of the bottom line. That should not be the only criteria for closing a community icon such as PHC.

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