2006-03-03 / Editorial/Opinion

Losing A Hospital Would Be A Tragedy For Rockaway

Even though the New York Post erred in its statistics about the percentage of beds that are utilized at the Peninsula Hospital Center in an article the paper did two weeks ago, it is clear that a commission appointed by the Governor might decide to close that facility in order to reduce the number of hospital beds in Queens. Therein lies part of our problem: Rockaway is placed with the rest of Queens in a generic health area. While that health area may have too many hospital beds, Rockaway surely does not. Rockaway is basically on its own when it comes to hospital care. Telling a local resident that he or she can go to Jamaica Hospital for care when Peninsula is closed down makes no sense. We are an isolated community, surrounded on three sides by water and on the fourth by another county. The nearest hospital to Rockaway without going over a bridge is South Nassau Community Hospital in Oceanside – literally a world away. Therefore, lumping us in with the rest of Queens when deciding on which hospital gets the beds, which gets to provide specialized services and which gets closed may cause a tragedy of health care on the peninsula, where nearly 5,000 new residents settled last year and perhaps four times that number will come in the next several years. Both St. Johns Episcopal Hospital and the Peninsula Hospital Center are reportedly running at nearly 80 percent of capacity. The Addabbo Family Health Center, by federal law, caters to a specific constituency. Those facilities do not work as competitors, but as cooperative entities, providing health care to a growing and increasingly-elderly population. To close any of those facilities would be folly and our state legislators should let the Governor and his commission just how important they are to Rockaway.

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