2011-03-25 / Editorial/Opinion

A Plea To Keep PHC Viable

The Peninsula Hospital Center has taken a lot of body blows in the past few months. Twice, it has gone to the deadline before finding a way to keep paying for its employees’ health care costs. The first time, in November, it cut a deal with the union to pay off the millions it owed for the health care. Just recently, it reneged on that deal and once again beat the deadline, this time by moving the employees from the union plan to a Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan presently held by some non-union workers and supervisors at Jamaica Hospital. Last month, the hospital administration was charged with taking money earmarked for employee deductions for such things as insurance, Aflac and annuities and using that employee money to pay bills and buy supplies. Just last week, the CEO of MediSys, the health conglomerate that owns and operates PHC, was charged by federal prosecutors with bribing three Brooklyn legislators in order to get benefits such as discharging a $19 million loan owed by the corporation. Think of how PHC could have used the millions paid instead in bribes. The bottom line, we believe, is that Peninsula must be kept viable and active for the Rockaway community. There are 120,000 people in Rockaway who cannot exist with only one hospital – and that one, at the extreme eastern end of the peninsula. Our state legislators must work hard to find a way to adequately fund PHC at best or to work to merge PHC with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway so that PHC can stay open and operating. The hospital is too important an institution to fail, and our legislators will let it fail only at their peril.

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