Today’s news:

Judge rejects move to reopen Parkway Hospital

Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan federal court Tuesday denied Parkway Hospital officials’ motion for a preliminary injunction to reopen the hospital that closed in November, leaving open the possibility that the building in Forest Hills could be turned into a detention center.

Kaplan concluded at the hearing Tuesday morning that Parkway’s attorney did not demonstrate it could successfully operate profitably should it reopen its doors, nor did he prove that Parkway administrators had no notice that the state was going to shutter the hospital as Parkway’s attorney Eric Baum argued.

“There’s no persuasive evidence on the part of Parkway it attempted to meet with the Berger Commission after the commission’s Regional Advisory Committee report, nor is there evidence it was denied that opportunity,” Kaplan said.

The RAC issued a report prior to Parkway’s closing that the state should not shutter the hospital for another two years. Baum contended Parkway officials received insufficient notice from the state about the closing and should have been allowed a hearing in front of state officials before being shuttered.

Parkway officials said it is nearly definite the hospital will never reopen and they have been told the attorney holding the building’s mortgage could replace the hospital with a detention center.

Thomas Seaman, the court-appointed receiver for Medical Capital Holdings, a defunct investment firm that originally issued Parkway’s mortgage, said in his deposition filed in federal court Oct. 15 that he may be forced to turn the building into a detention center or halfway house.

“I am informed that aside from a health care facility there would be a few viable uses for the building such as low-security correctional or detention center or a halfway house,” Seaman said in the deposition. “Such uses would likely meet with community opposition. Nonetheless, given the configuration of the Parkway Hospital building and the well-known need for facilities to detain immigration holds and for halfway houses, that could be the only viable use.”

Parkway, a 251-bed facility, halted the majority of its operations after filing for bankruptcy and losing its state operating license last fall. It was one of the hospitals the New York State Commission on Healthcare Facilities in the 21st Century, known as the Berger Commission, mandated to close because the panel said the area had too many unused hospital beds.

State Health Department spokeswoman Claudia Hutton said in an earlier interview that Parkway “scored lowest of the hospitals in that area on items such as financial stability, numbers of patients served and how well their revenues covered their expenses.”

Dr. Robert Aquino, owner of Parkway, and Parkway officials contend the hospital was forced to close down after it did not pay bribes to former state Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio. Seminerio, who pleaded guilty in June to taking $310,000 in secret payments from Jamaica Hospital, allegedly attempted to extort money from Aquino and Parkway Hospital and when Aquino would not cooperate, Seminerio retaliated, according to a $100 million civil lawsuit Aquino filed in federal court in Manhattan against Seminerio and Jamaica Hospital President David Rosen.

Seminerio’s indictment says the former assemblyman attempted to extort a “non-client hospital” and when the hospital refused to hand over bribe money, Seminerio advocated on behalf of Jamaica Hospital at Parkway’s expense. Aquino said Parkway Hospital is the “non-client hospital” named in the federal indictment.

The lawsuit accuses Rosen of paying Seminerio for favorable treatment. Jamaica Hospital would benefit from Parkway going out of business since it is located about 1 1/2 miles from Parkway and could take in the clients who could have gone to the Forest Hills Hospitals, Aquino charged.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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