2011-08-26 / Editorial/Opinion

Some Helped Community, Some Worked For PHC’s Demise

It seems more than likely at press time that the complete demise of the Peninsula Hospital Center, one of the two hospitals serving the 120,000 residents on the Rockaway peninsula, will have been carried out. On Tuesday afternoon, the state’s Department of Health ordered that the emergency room be closed by Wednesday evening and that all patients be transferred to other healthcare facilities. It also ordered that no new patients be taken. As with most dramas, there are heroes and villains, at least for Rockaway residents, most of whom believe that the hospital is a vital resource and that its demise endangers the entire community. On the hero side of the ledger fall all of those employees, many of whom live in Rockaway as well as work here, and the doctors who served the Rockaway community so well. Also on that side of the ledger are the board members who worked long, hard hours trying to keep the hospital alive – Joe Mure, George Greco, Lou Caucig, Nancy Vardakis and Steve Greenberg. On the other side of the ledger fall all of our elected officials who, with the exception of City Councilman Eric Ulrich, didn’t attend the rallies to keep the hospital open. Where was Malcolm Smith, Michele Titus, James Sanders, Jr.? On the night the people of Rockaway were rallying to save their vital hospital, Sanders was planning a rally to save a mainland post office. Titus has not been heard from, nor has Smith. We no longer have Tony Weiner, who would have been on the issue like a dog on a bone. On the other hand, Congressman Gregory Meeks was more concerned with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital getting more money than he was the closing of PHC. Then, there are CEO Bob Levine and board chair Joe Miele, both of whom, for whatever their own reasons, worked against those board members, reportedly urging the state to close down the hospital. And, finally, the two organizations that were owed lots of money and chose money over 1,000 jobs – Medi- Sys and Local 1199 of the Healthcare Workers Union. When the smoke has cleared and some have died because there is no longer a nearby emergency room to treat a stroke or heart attack, we will learn the truth about why PHC died, and we can bet that the story won’t be pretty.

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