2011-12-16 / Top Stories

Addabbo Special Ed Program Gets Six Month Reprieve

By Miriam Rosenberg

After weeks of uncertainty, the CEO of Peninsula Hospital Center has announced that the special education program run by Addabbo Health Center will remain in the hospital until June 30.

During a Town Hall Meeting last week, PHC’s Todd Miller told area residents that the program, which has been at the hospital for 10 years, will not have to leave at year’s end as first reported. Miller met with the superintendent of the Department of Education’s special education programs, representatives for the New York State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Addabbo’s CEO Dr. Peter Nelson on December 7, when a compromise was reached.

“Once they heard what I had done to try and make sure that the program was safe and that Dr. Nelson had adequate time to exit … we set the record straight,” said Miller, at a December 8 Town Hall meeting at the Good Government Democratic Club in Rockaway Park. “So the Addabbo Center will reside in Peninsula Hospital until June 30 unless Addabbo doesn’t keep its end of the bargain where those kids will be transferred into other programs by the end of the school year.”

Miller added that, “We didn’t throw this program out. There was a formal legal proceeding that needed to happen. It was a landlord/tenant situation …I told them two months before that I wanted them to think about leaving. But then you have to actually go through a legal process in order to follow through with the requirements of a lease. Which we did.”

About the June 30 deadline, Nelson on Monday said, “We’ve got enormous positive support from the Department of Mental Health and the DOE. Everybody wants it to work, but I’m not sure it can be done within the time frame. I don’t think DOH and DOE felt they could push him any harder.”

Nelson is committed to saving the program, but moving into a different building can cost between $700,000 and $800,000 for renovations. He is currently looking at alternatives that could be done within the time frame and with the finances available.

The best case scenario is to move the program to a building next to the 6200 Rockaway Beach Boulevard Addabbo FHC office, but “there are some complications,” Nelson said.

“To [Miller’s] credit he did move the timeline,” said Nelson. “I’m still trying to do it within the June 30 deadline. The big question is whether we can compress [everything that needs to be done] and have all the children out.”

Nelson also added that wherever the program goes it is going to need approval from the state.

“It’s going to turn on getting a state certificate of need through an accelerated process. I’m working on that now,” said Nelson. He added, “I’m still hopeful that we will have a program by June 30.”

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