2012-03-30 / Columnists

Simon says...

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

Lew M. Simon Lew M. Simon As we write late Monday evening we are very sad to hear that Lori Lapin Jones, the bankruptcy trustee for Peninsula Hospital, is demanding closure of the hospital. There have been no specific answers given by the State Department of Health or the trustee as to any defects in the plan submitted to cure the deficiencies.

In a status report Trustee Jones claims that DOH determined that “substantial additional time, effort and expense would be required before the laboratory would be eligible for recertification.” The Trustee has made the decision to submit a closure plan for the Hospital to DOH. “The Trustee will now turn to determining whether the Hospital can be used for other healthcare purposes and she will do so in coordination with DOH and in consultation with creditors and the Union. Although the Trustee is new to the case, she recognizes and appreciates the long and respected history of the Hospital, the important role of the Hospital in the community and, most important, the talented and dedicated staff that has served the Hospital for many years.” She notes that the daily operations of the Nursing home will continue.

Mrs Zakheim, who has been involved in the financing of the hospital since Medisys left the scene last summer, has told us that she is prepared to donate $1,000,000 to the hospital to make sure that all necessary work would be done. Some workers have agreed to work for 50 percent of their regular pay and some have agreed to work without pay during this crisis.

Early Tuesday morning we received a statement from Mrs. Zakheim that the doctor who is now in charge of the laboratory said that they are fully capable of passing the State Department of Health inspection. We would like to know why they haven’t come to review the work. Local attorney John Macron has filed for an injunction in federal court to stop the closure plan.

We have been working closely with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and State Senator Malcolm Smith to try to get a meeting of the State Department of Health, hospital administrators and elected officials to get an agreement to keep the hospital open. I am afraid that someone in the DOH would rather close the hospital than do the hard work of working out a plan for them to be successful. We beat them last summer and we are hoping that this time we can win again.

Assemblyman Goldfeder and Senator Smith are in Albany working on the state budget but Phil has been in touch with the DOH on a daily basis. We are working diligently with Peninsula staff, community members and leaders like Dr. Ed Williams, head of the local NAACP, to find a solution. We understand that we are all in this fight together. United we stand. Divided we fall.

Whether we know of a good or bad experience at our hospital, it is much needed on our 11 mile island. The minutes taken to reach another hospital on the mainland in Brooklyn or Queens may be the difference between life and death. St. John’s Hospital cannot take the burden of serving the whole peninsula, Broad Channel, parts of the 5 Towns and the tens of thousands of visitors who join us on summer weekends. Ambulances have been on diversion from St. John’s a number of times since the closing of Peninsula’s ambulance service. This means that the ambulance will not take you to St. John’s even if you and your family say that is where you want to go.

Rockaway has thousands of new residents and is still growing. We have the largest senior population with the most adult and nursing homes. Our emergency rooms are full because some doctors refuse patients with Medicaid or Medicare. Our summer season brings potential drownings, violence and hurricanes. We cannot afford to lose either of our hospitals.

We are planning rallies outside Peninsula Hospital on Friday and Saturday at 5 to 7 p.m. We must show state officials that our hospital is important to us. More details to follow.

We need you to come and join us at our Good Government Regular Democratic Club. Come and join us. We are open every Thursday evening at 114-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. On an average month 100 to 150 local residents, constituents and neighbors in need of assistance ask us to help with their problems. We never ask what party they are enrolled in or where they are located. We only ask how can we help. We receive no salary for our job. We do need your dues of $25. You can send it in or bring it on Thursday evening. Donations are appreciated. If you have any questions you can reach us at 718-945-1216.

Our friend Alice Barnes can help you with your income tax problems. She is the office manager at H&R Block at 87- 10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. They are offering a “Free Second Look” where they will check your return for errors. They find that many taxpayers fail to claim deductions and credits they are entitled to. Alice is intelligent, honest and caring. She has found thousands of dollars for some taxpayers. You can drop off your old return at their office or call 718-318-2183 for an appointment.

We are deeply saddened by the death of Lucie Watts who I had the distinct pleasure of knowing all my life. While growing up in city housing in Arverne, Lucie lived on the second floor. I went to school with her beautiful daughter Sheila. We followed each other and moved to Bay Towers. Lucie worked in management in Hammels and Beach 41st Houses. She was Executive Vice President of the Bay Towers Tenants Association. Lucie was an outstanding, brilliant, and kind hearted individual. She was a go to person on NYC housing and various entitlement programs. God must have needed a brilliant angel in heaven. My deepest sympathy to the family.

We still need election inspectors for the upcoming four elections this year, April 24 (presidential primary), June 26 (congressional primary), September 11(state legislative and party office) and November 6 (Election Day). The pay is $200 per day which is from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. There is extra pay for required training classes. You must be a registered Democrat in the 23 A.D. Part B. Call my office for more information.

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