What Next For Rockaway Health Care?
The state department of health’s mandated report after the abrupt closure of the Peninsula Hospital Center in April is in the can and, if you believe the state agency, the hospital had no place to go but down. When MediSys pulled out in August, PHC was more than $60 million in debt. It had sustained four consecutive years of operational losses, more than $20 million a year. For years, Rockaway residents had voted against the hospital with their feet, going elsewhere for their hospital needs. The state report says that of the 22,140 Rockaway residents who were hospitalized in 2010, a substantial number went elsewhere, with 13.5 percent going to Nassau County, 9.5 percent to Brooklyn, 8.3 to Manhattan and 12.7 percent to other Queens hospitals off the peninsula. In fact, the report says, PHC served only 20.8 percent of those Rockaway residents who needed some hospital services in 2010. Because of that, the hospital’s inpatient volume fell steadily from a high of 5,707 patients in 2004 to just over 5,000 in 2010. The average inpatient census declined from 118 in 2005 to 72 in 2010, a drop of almost 39 percent. In addition, the emergency department showed a decline from a high of 26,430 visits in 2004 to an average of 22,000 visits each year for the next six years. The question then, is not whether the state was right to close the hospital, but what happens next. The state says it is working closely with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway and the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center on Beach 62 Street to find a way to take up some of the slack left by PHC’s closure. It also says that there is a possibility that Trustee Lori Lapin Jones will come up with a plan that will sell the property to another health care provider. We hope the same.