2012-04-13 / 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 on Monday evening after 9 p.m. my body is completely numb and my eyes are seeing triple. To use the word bastard toward the trustee and New York State Health Department for closing Peninsula General Hospital is just a small way of saying that I feel aggravated, upset and feeling sorry for the many deaths that will occur due to the closing of our community hospital.

The blood of all those who will die is on the hands of the trustee, Lori Lapin Jones, who had her mind set from the beginning to close the hospital at all costs, as well as the Commissioner of the State Health Department, Dr. Nirav R. Shah. They should be ashamed of themselves for closing down a community hospital on an over 11 mile island where there are so many nursing homes, health related facilities, seniors and disabled and large numbers of unemployed. Almost all of the newly unemployed hospital employees are our neighbors and family.

We are fully aware that St. John’s Hospital emergency room is bursting at the seams. We have been made aware that on numerous occasions in the last weeks St. John’s and Jamaica Hospital emergency rooms were on diversion. That means that an ambulance will not take you there even if you and your family request that hospital. Going to other hospitals will take more precious minutes, make it more difficult for family to visit and take the ambulances far away from our community and unable to respond to the next call in a timely manner.

People from the west end of the peninsula will be taken to Kings Highway Hospital in Brooklyn. During the time that the Marine Parkway Bridge is opened due to the dredging the ambulances will be further delayed. With the warmer weather coming, tens of thousands of additional people come down to our beaches and boardwalk. Some will need emergency medical care. Who is planning for our safety?

There is a major catastrophe in the making.

In the U.S. Bankruptcy Court the requested injunction to stop the closure was rejected. Peninsula was required to surrender its certificate of operation which would mean that it would be extremely difficult to get another hospital in its place.

As we are writing we have the commitment of a number of our state elected officials to reach out to the NYS Health Commissioner in the morning to ask that the certificate of operation stay in effect for at least 6 months giving ample time to find a potential operator. We hear that the potential operator would need between $21 million and $23 million. At this time Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Senator Joseph Addabbo will be making calls to the Health Commissioner.

We would like to thank Dr. Wayne Dodakain and local attorney John Macron and Joe Mure, Steve Greenberg, and Lou Caucig of the Board of Directors and all of those who rallied with us on the bus and outside the hospital every night for their dedication and devotion to our community. We are losing an integral part of our family.

We will continue to fight to make sure we have good quality health care on our peninsula. United we stand, divided we fall. Although we have hit a major bump in the road, we are not going to take it lying down. We urge everyone to watch Rik Cordero’s documentary “Stranded,” a look at the plight of Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway. You may find it on the Internet. This moving documentary tribute attests to the importance of our hospital.

We urge everybody to pick up his or her phone and call all our elected officials. The names and phones numbers appear on the editorial page of The Wave each week. Calls must be made to Assemblywoman Michele Titus, 1931 Mott Avenue, 718-327-1878, Phil Goldfeder 718-945-9550, Senator Malcolm Smith 718-454-0162, Shirley Huntley 718-523-3069, Joseph Addabbo 718- 497-1630 and all local TV, radio stations you watch and listen to and all newspapers you read or that serve our community.

We would like to remind everyone that April 24 is a Republican presidential primary. Only enrolled Republicans will be allowed to vote.

Please help us to keep our Good Government Regular Democratic Club open. Dues of $25 per family may be sent to the club at 114-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Park NY 11694. We are open every Thursday evening from 7:30 to 11 p.m., but I am always available by phone at 718-945-1216. I will try to help with any problem no matter how small or big.

We are deeply saddened by the deaths of two individuals in our community. Mike Keller was a great Irish cultural leader who worked for decades in the Hibernians, Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Committee, St. Rose of Lima and many other Irish and Catholic organizations. He died the day before Easter. God must have needed a very special angel to help him run East-er services in heaven. He was an outstanding individual with a heart of gold.

We are saddened by the death of an outstanding lady, Marge Edwards, a lady of class, style and great character. Marge always had a beautiful smile on her face and something kind to say, I remember last having dinner at a local pizza restaurant and laughing and remembering great times. She thanked me and asked that I continue the great missionary work in our community. I am sure that she is now a special angel in heaven and she was greeted at the gate by her great friend Alice Duck and my mother. They may all be playing at the one armed bandit in heaven.

My deepest sympathy to the families and I’m sure they will be missed.

We are now demanding that the Cross Bay Bridge toll be free for the residents of Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point. Our Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder made sure that there was money in the budget to reimburse the MTA-TBTA for the tolls.

We were assured that this would go into effect as soon as the budget was signed. Unfortunately, we are still waiting and paying the toll.

We are prepared, if need be, to coordinate one of the biggest marches to demand that the button be pressed on the computer that would reinstate the rebate. We should also get retroactive rebates for payments made since the budget was signed.

We are very proud of our great friendship with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder who is now one of our family members.

We are now working on the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach line of the LIRR. New life was breathed into our efforts when Governor Cuomo’s plan for a convention center at Aqueduct was released.

They will need to bring tens of thousands of customers from Manhat-tan by mass transit. At no time did we ever consider getting rid of the A train that brings passengers to Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. We will work to improve service on the A line.

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