A Queens hospital is closing

July 26, 2011 1:40:35 PM PDT
For nearly 40 years, Indiana Koenig has counted on Peninsula Hospital in Edgemere, Queens when she got sick but is now terrified knowing the facility may shut down within 90 days, leaving just St. John's Hospital open on the Far Rockaway peninsula, some two miles away.

"For God's sake, you can't make the people in the Rockaways suffer," Koenig said, "For an ambulance to come from another hospital to Rockaway, maybe I'll die."

Peninsula makes no bones about it, says it's "facing a deep financial crisis". Officials say the facility and its nursing home owe its vendors $15 million, others say it's more like $60 million.

In 2006, a state commission suggested Peninsula and St. Johns merge to share costs. That never happened.

"When there are Medicare cuts and Medicaid and you keep taking off the top, it hits you," said Susan Greene, Peninsula Hospital worker.

Though Peninsula is involved in ongoing talks with state officials trying to find a solution, the hospital admits, closing maybe the only option. That would mean 200 beds and 1,000 jobs would go away.

"Within 30 days, by the end of August, we should know something but we're told they are shipping out patients, what are they going to need us for," said Rita Closky, another Peninsula Hospital worker.

Councilman James Sanders calls this situation a catastrophe.

"Peninsula is in the densest part of the Rockaways, poorest part of the Rockaways, and in a health crisis area as defined by the Department of Health. This is not a place to close a hospital, but will be a place where we dig in and fight," Sanders said.