2011-08-12 / Letters

Save Peninsula Hospital Center

The following letter was sent to the commissioner of the New York State Department of Health. Dear Commissioner Shah,

We write in regards to a most dire situation which needs your intervention and investigation. This matter involves the proposed closing of Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway, New York.

The closing of the hospital will cause irreparable damage to the Rockaway peninsula. The closure of the hospital would be akin to a death sentence. As you may be aware, the hospital is scheduled to close October 25, 2011.

It appears that Robert V. Levine, President and CEO, has arbitrarily decided to expedite the shutdown process by: Closing patient care units; Transfer-ring patients from the hospital at a rapid pace; Canceling all pending clinic appointments and instructing doctors not to schedule medical procedures. Levine’s actions, making the closure of the hospital imminent, if not illegal, are at least unethical.

It is alleged that he plans to shut the hospital on Wednesday, August 10, 2011.

In addition, it appears that Mr. Levine’s actions may be in violation pursuant to the regulations of the NYS Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act in terms of the hospital’s Collective Bargaining Agreements.

Levine had denied for several years and not been truthful, transparent or forthcoming to the community, hospital staff, the union, local elected officials, the hospital’s Board of Directors and your agency regarding the severe financial status of the hospital. It was not until the fiscal matters had spiraled out of control and became public knowledge did he admit the severe debt the hospital had incurred. To make matters worst, he arbitrarily decided it was in his best interest to close the hospital. Mr. Levine has blatantly cut-off all communications with hospital employees (including union delegates) and the public. To add insult to injury, when approached by employees for information, he has chosen to call the Police Department to safeguard him.

It is unconscionable that, given the Rockaway peninsula (which is truly an isolated community from Queens and the rest of the City) is over-saturated with nursing homes, mental health adult homes, large housing developments, continuing housing growth, large elderly and retired population, large youth and young adult population, high incidence rate of asthma, diabetes and stroke victims, high incidence rate of shooting and stabbing victims, highest unemployment rate in the state, the closing of Peninsula Hospital is even being discussed. The conversation should only be how the hospital’s vital services to the community can be enhanced, enriched and expanded!

Levine has failed the hospital and has failed the Rockaway community. He must be removed. In addition, we request that you inform Levine to cease and desist from any further shut down operations until such time that the Governor’s office, the Attorney General’s office, elected officials and your office can thoroughly investigate this matter while developing a plan to SAVE PENINSULA HOSPITAL.


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