Saturday, February 28, 2009
Hospitals officially close at midnight tonight
Two hospitals in Queens are set to stop accepting patients Saturday night at midnight as they prepare to close for good.
St. John's Queens and Mary Immaculate Hospitals will officially shut down Monday after wrapping up last minute business.
Workers are expected to hold a vigil Saturday night outside St. John's.
The hospitals are closing because their operator, Caritas Healthcare, recently filed for bankruptcy.
The move will leave about 2,500 people out of work.
The candlelight vigil will be at midnight tonight in front of St. John's.
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. today issued the following statement on the closures of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s Queens hospitals:
“Despite numerous calls from the various stakeholders to prevent or delay the hospital closures, the State has failed to keep Mary Immaculate and St. John’s Queens hospitals open. Without putting a plan in place, the State has left many unanswered questions about how Queens residents will be able to get their health care needs met. The New York City Fire Department, which oversees Emergency Medical Services, also has not addressed how the closures will impact the health and safety of area residents including transition plans for ‘911’ emergency medical response and treatment services.”
Over the past several months, Thompson has been advocating to prevent or delay the hospital closures. Additionally, in 2006, Thompson issued a report “Emergency Room Care: Will It Be There?,” detailing how the proposed closure of five hospitals could overwhelm emergency rooms at neighboring hospitals, reduce ambulance availability, and require New Yorkers to travel farther to reach an emergency room. With the closures of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s hospitals, Western and Southwestern Queens have lost three hospitals within two years.
The NY Post has an updated story:
"Someone needs to investigate why this is happening," Beidell said. "We have always been packed with patients who have insurance. How is it we were unable to stay viable? Its all politics and its very shady."
Staff were shocked the closure actually happened, adding that less than a month ago the hospital was at capacity.
EMT Brigitte Smalley said patients have to wait too long for beds under normal circumstances, and was grim about what could happen with two less hospitals in the borough.
"There are no beds. These closings are going to shorten life spans," she said.
Nurse Eddie Drinnkman said the closures will turn a health care crisis "into a health care disaster."
"Governor Patterson is going to try to save money by killing the residents of Queens," he said.