2006-11-17 / Community

Borough President Calls For New Hospital In Rockaway

By Howard Schwach

Borough President Helen Marshall
Borough President Helen Marshall Borough President Helen Marshall has called for a new hospital for Rockaway to address the needs of the growing community and assure that local residents can be treated in local hospitals.

At a press conference at her Kew Gardens office on Tuesday, Marshall laid out her vision for a comprehensive and sustainable health care system for the borough.

"A new, centrally-located comprehensive hospital in the Rockaways is necessary to meet the growing demands of a rapidly increasing population," Marshall said. "In the interim, the facilities that currently exist are called on to collaborate on the enhancement of medical care."

Marshall said that she had a report prepared by an outside company due to her concerns about recommendations that might be made in the Berger Commission report due in December. That commission was set up by the governor to make recommendations on cutting the cost of health care to the state. It is widely expected to recommend cutting services at some hospitals, reducing the number of beds available and, perhaps, in closing some hospitals altogether.

"I decided that I didn't want to be told what's best for Queens," the borough president said. "That is why I hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers to document every statistic on the current state of healthcare in Queens."

One of the statistics in their report, which cost the taxpayers $170,000, jumped off the page, she said. In the report was the fact that Queens, with more than 2.3 million residents has 1.4 hospital beds per 1,000 residents while Manhattan enjoys a ratio of 7.1 beds per 1,000 residents.

She added that a large segment of Queens residents go outside of the borough for more complex services such as cardiology, orthopedics and cancer treatment. "On any given day, 1,400 borough residents are in hospital beds outside the borough," she said.

"For too long, Queens has been a stepchild to the large, Manhattan-based teaching institutions," she said. "Historical trends are not a valid justification for the acceptance of the status quo."

Marshall's six-point action steps were presented to Stephen Berger, the chair of the commission, last week. She plans to bring them to Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer as soon as possible.

In addition to the Rockaway hospital, Marshall called for a new facility for western Queens, the establishment of Queens as its own health region, a move to have specialty physicians come to Queens rather than have the patients go to their hospitals, a clinical campus for the borough and a the establishment of a task force to accomplish all of the goals outlined in the report.

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