2 Queens hospitals shut their doors

March 1, 2009 2:07:01 PM PST
Two hospitals in Queens have shut their doors, victims of a failing economy. The halls and nurses' stations at St. John's Hospital in Elmhurst are silent Sunday. Both the hospital and its sister facility, Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica, stopped accepting patients at midnight Saturday night.

Earlier in the year, Albany kicked in thousands of dollars to try to keep both hospitals operating. But the parent company filed for bankruptcy last month.

Officials say 2,500 people will lose their jobs.

Currently, a skelton staff is caring for remaining patients before they are moved to other hospitals.

"Very eerie. Very eerie," registered nurse Katherine Wilkenson said Saturday night. "It's so quiet. I'm used to hearing the hustle and bustle of life here."

Wilkenson says she lost more than a paycheck.

"I've been here for almost 40 years," she said. "My staff is like my family. Obviously, I'm very upset."

Hospital staff says it hit them 10 days ago when department after department shut down and the ambulances stopped coming.

"A patient called crying on the phone learning that the hospital was closing," emergency physician Onjemachi Ajah said. "I didn't know what to tell her."

For many, that's just it. They're at a loss for words. It is the same silence that runs through the halls.


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