2011-03-18 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

By Robert Levine President And CEO, Peninsula Hospital Center

Peninsula Hospital Center and Peninsula Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation is now, and will continue to be the largest employer on the Rockaway Peninsula.

The New York State budgets under several past legislative regimes have taken a toll on Peninsula’s bottom line, as they have at all hospitals, nursing homes, homecare agencies, schools, and virtually any other nonprofit organization or agency dependent upon state funding for its operation.

We have faced no fewer than nine cuts to the Medicaid reimbursement over the past several years by New York State and additional Federal reductions to our revenue and more costly mandates taking place in the increasingly complex healthcare environment. Achieving a successful operation financially while meeting a rise in demand for healthcare services as our Rockaway community endures the effects of the weakened economy is a challenge that Peninsula Hospital Center accepts as a part of our mission.

We further realize that the current Governor and Legislature will have to make additional tough choices when it comes to Medicaid and healthcare in this State, but we are certain that Peninsula Hospital Center, a vital health resource as well as an economic engine for both the Rockaway Peninsula and the Borough of Queens, must be supported and helped to thrive and grow both today and into the future.

So let’s talk about the present and future of Peninsula Hospital Center. Currently the vast majority of our dedicated, caring staff and attending physicians live here in our community. We continue to recruit talented physicians and nursing staff to our team. In 2010 alone, twenty-nine new physicians joined our growing medical and dental staff.

By becoming a sponsored member of the MediSys Health Network, Peninsula Hospital Center is a part of a major health system with a vast amount of network resources which includes 10,000 employees, two Level I Trauma Centers, scores of Ambulatory Care Centers and other health and support assets throughout Queens and Brooklyn. The new affiliation with the MediSys Health Network has been extremely helpful to the Hospital in recruiting of new Board Certified physicians in the areas of anesthesia and surgery and will streamline the process in many other significant ways that a single stand-alone hospital would struggle to achieve. This will assure the residents of Rockaway a more advanced and comprehensive level of care and service.

Many MediSys network-wide initiatives are well underway including the investment of almost $85 million in the design, purchase, training and installation of the EPIC electronic medical records system (already in the first phases), which is scheduled to “go-live” at Peninsula Hospital Center within the year.

Another major advancement for the healthcare of the residents of Rockaway coming mid-year will be the opening of the Peninsula Cancer Center, in partnership with the nationally recognized program of Alliance Healthcare Service. Peninsula will be offering not only our highly skilled clinical staff but will offer cutting-edge radiation therapy using the most advanced technology.

This year renovations are underway to improve and enhance our Emergency Department including our Fast-Track area and Radiology suite and the in-patient dialysis unit. We have upgraded the Cardiology diagnostic unit with a new SPECT camera and nuclear equipment as well.

There have been some recent false rumors and headlines in the media about which hospital is on which list to be closed or what hospital is or is not financially viable. Queens has already lost a large number of facilities and falls far below Manhattan and other areas in beds/100,000 population. But as we and others have learned it is not just about beds, it is about matching services to the needs of the community and that is the direction that Peninsula Hospital Center has chosen to take. The continuous flow of negative and misleading rumor without facts only serves to denigrate the hard work of many to keep this hospital moving in a positive direction.

We believe that some of the services and programs that we are growing for the future will help to improve the financial stability of the hospital. So will support from our neighbors, our elected officials, and our business community. Supporting each other in a positive way during difficult times is a formula for success.

It is certainly true that there are many challenges, which affect all of us in the healthcare industry. For 103 years in Rockaway, Peninsula Hospital Center has faced down many storms. The current fiscal storms whether from Albany or Washington will no doubt be a challenge. But we are certain that there are bright days ahead for Peninsula Hospital, as we remain committed to serving the Rockaway community for many years to come.

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