2012-03-02 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

We wish everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day, Erin go Bragh. This Saturday will be our annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Parade. The kickoff will be on the corner of Beach 130 Street and Newport Avenue. The parade route will be down Newport Avenue to Beach 116 Street down to Rockaway Beach Boulevard and then to Beach 102 Street, our reviewing stand will be on Beach 105 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard (south side). Rain or shine, we’re praying for 70 degree weather and urging all to come out and enjoy the best parade in New York City.

I’ve been a proud member of the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee for 26 years and have been on the Board of Directors for many years. We’d like to congratulate our Chairman of the Parade Committee, Michael Benn, his family and all the members including Vice President John Brennan and Secretary Eileen Fagan who work 24 hours 7 days making sure our parade is the best bar none without any problems.

Each and every one of our bands is paid for their expenses in participating in our parade. As we end one parade, we start working for the next one. It’s been more and more difficult each year to raise funds. Congratulations on the outstanding job that is done. We’d love to see those who enjoy the parade as much as we do make a contribution payable to the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Cultural Committee at P.O. Box 82, Rockaway Beach NY 11693. Amounts from $1.00 to $5000 are greatly appreciated.

Before we know it the New York State budget will be signed, hopefully before the end of March. We look to sometime in April for the Cross Bay Bridge toll rebate program for Rockaway and Broad Channel residents to resume. We will continue to fight to end the toll for all Queens residents.

We have been working diligently together with Assemblymembers Phil Goldfeder and Mike Miller of the 38th A.D. With Assemblyman Miller’s help the Woodhaven Residents Block Association has endorsed our efforts. In light of the opening of the Resorts World Casino and the future home of the convention center, Genting is putting billions of dollars into the convention center. One of the key ingredients of success is proper transportation. The Regional Plan Association has stated transportation is a major factor. Genting has been pushing for exclusive operation of legalized table games. It would take passage by the legislature in 2012 and by the newly elected legislature in 2013 and then a statewide election to amend the NYS Constitution and make these games legal. We look forward to this major improvement in our public transportation system.

You may have heard that, as we write, most of Peninsula Hospital is closed. Staff has been laid off, ambulances have been diverted and patients have been transferred to other facilities. Some clinics, dental, nursing home and the Family Health Center remained open. An inspection by the NYS Health Department found major deficiencies in the operation of the clinical laboratory at Peninsula. They found lack of training, competency assessment and continuing education; inadequate supervision, missing or incomplete Standard Operating Procedures, improper calibration of instruments, expired reagents, and a lack of personal protective equipment. Violations were found in microbiology, histopathology, chemistry/ toxicology, hematology and blood bank operation. The NYS Department of Health will hold a hearing on these issues within 30 days.

As Assembly District Leader and one of the leaders of the people who rallied to save the hospital in the summer of 2011, I have been devastated personally by the announcement on Thursday. Assemblyman Goldfeder and yours truly have committed our full support in working with administration in rectifying the lab problems at Peninsula. If any reader who is knowledgeable about lab procedures calls my office, I can make the report available to you and welcome your comments.

In my heart, I question the fact that the Health Department did not allow Peninsula to close its lab and send lab work to other facilities. We understand that St. John’s Episcopal’s lab was found deficient and lab work was sent to LIJ. We wonder if the State wants to close Peninsula for other reasons. We will do everything in our capabilities in making sure that Peninsula Hospital’s doors are open and the patients and ambulances come back to our community hospital. It’s a damn shame that this had to happen.

Enough is enough. Let’s not let it happen to our community. Right now no local hospital has lab services. When patients are taken to the emergency room there is immediate need for blood work. The many nursing home patients, seniors and accident victims in our Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Neponsit, Belle Harbor, Rockaway Park and the rest of the peninsula are in continuing danger. In just three months thousands of visitors will be coming to our beaches. What emergency services will be available? Peninsula Hospital has a heliport. Why couldn’t lab work be flown to a working lab and results be transmitted back to hospital staff? We must stand together to keep Peninsula open.

As Assembly District Leader, I still get paid zero. I do my work because I love it. The Good Government Regular Democratic Club serves as my living room and as a meeting place for concerned residents of all political parties or no political party. We keep the office at 114-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard open on Thursday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. You are welcome to drop in with your comments, problems and questions. We welcome your dues of $25 for the year, but you do not have to be a paid member to drop in. Checks may be mailed to our office.

There may be as many as four election days this year. Some of the dates have not been decided yet. If you are a registered Democrat in the 23rd A.D. Part B, you may be able to serve on the Election Board. The pay is $200 for serving from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. There is additional pay for required training. Call my office at 718-945-1216 for information.

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