2011-08-12 / Columnists

Simon Says...

Commentary From the Desk of Lew M. Simon, Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D.

Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon As we write our column on Tuesday evening there is a lot going on to keep the doors of Peninsula Hospital open. The Peninsula Hospital Board of Directors, a group of leading local residents, has determined that they have legal control of the hospital. They had been told that the MediSys board had legal authority to order the hospital closed. The Peninsula board is telling the New York State Health Department that they are rescinding the Medi- Sys closing request.

A week ago Wednesday an outstanding rally was put together to keep our hospital open. Hospital workers including doctors and nurses and community residents braved the rain with ponchos and umbrellas to hear speaker after speaker call for keeping the hospital open.

On July 29, State Senator Malcolm Smith sent a letter to Nirav R. Shah, M.D. M.P.H., Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, demanding a full and thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding and leading up to the decision to close Peninsula Hospital Center. Senator Smith also requested that Dr. Shah delay any closure plan involving Peninsula Hospital Center from moving forward until the investigation is completed. Senator Smith sent another letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urging an immediate investigation into finding the truth about hospital finances and why MediSys is trying to close the hospital.

On Sunday afternoon at 12 Noon Senator Smith called a press conference outside the New York State Health Commissioner’s New York City office at 90 Church Street, Manhattan to demand an investigation of the closing procedure. Senator Smith is the only local elected official who came up with this idea.

Other local and Queens elected officials including City Council members James Sanders, Ruben Wills and Leroy Comrie, State Assembly members Michelle Titus and David Weprin, State Senator Joe Addabbo, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Phil Goldfeder and Jane Deacy, Fred Lewis, Rev. Evan Gray spoke up for keeping the hospital at our rally. Dr. Ed Williams is working to get support from the New York State and national NAACP.

Malcolm and his staff have been working diligently each and every day to save the hospital.

Special thanks to Brett A. Scudder who runs http://myrockawaymedia.com for helping get out the word about our hospital. Call 714-816-4622 to speak or 718-770-7970 to listen. He has opened the airwaves to let us know what is going on.

We’d like to thank The Wave, Rockaway Point News, NY 1, Channels 4, 5, and 7 for their coverage.

As we are writing we are waiting for the New York State Department of Health to inspect Peninsula Hospital. They received false allegations that there is no staff or adequate supplies. This is a big lie and an attempt to force the hospital to close without the waiting period required by law. We have also been made aware that patients from the Traumatic Brain Injury unit were moved out in the middle of the night and sent to Jamaica Hospital (part of MediSys).

We are deadly afraid of another Neponsit Home situation. On Labor Day 1998, we had a heavy rain and gale force winds that enabled the Health and Hospitals Corporation under Mayor Giuliani to get an indicted Buildings commissioner to sign an emergency vacate order claiming that the buildings were in danger of imminent collapse. Patients were taken out in the wee hours of the morning causing heartache to patients and their families.

Patients were moved without their personal belongings like dentures and prostheses. They were scattered over the city. There were a number of premature deaths. The empty buildings are still standing with a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Someone may have thought they had a cash cow by getting control of this prime property. Thank God that the late Terry Flynn Sr, one of the best attorneys in the world, found a covenant to the deed that the property could be used for a hospital or park only. We ask you to help us watch the Peninsula Hospital property like a hawk.

On Saturday at 12 Noon we have called for a day of outrage. We invite everyone to participate with us and march around the perimeter of the Peninsula Hospital Center demanding that the hospital stay open to serve our community.

An unnamed benefactor has offered to purchase the hospital for $100 million and keep it in operation. If creditors, which include the Local 1199 Welfare Fund, can negotiate to reduce their claims, this new investment could be used for improvements to the hospital. Rev. Evan Gray, who is a member of the hospital Board of Directors and a Far Rockaway civic leader, is among those who are trying to keep the hospital operating while the financial issues are resolved. Peninsula Hospital was making efforts to sell the nursing home for $25 to $30 million.

If you want to keep the hospital serving our community, we ask that you call our elected officials and keep calling and keep calling until this problem is resolved. You can call TV and radio stations and city newspapers. Ask them to send a TV crew or reporter to Peninsula Hospital. Wave readers can find some phone numbers on the editorial page. Other numbers include Governor Cuomo at 212-681-4580 and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at 212- 416-8000.

United we stand. Divided we fall. Seconds count if you are having a stroke or heart attack. I am proud to be a member of this community that is fighting for the survival of Peninsula Hospital. I give of myself for this community 24/7. This time we must all join in. We will look for you on Saturday at 12 Noon at Peninsula.

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