Today’s news:

2 Queens hospitals put spotlight on universal health care

We are having a heat wave. On Sunday, the temperature was over 45 degrees, the sun was shining, the birds were birding and the squirrels were squirreling. What a great day. Can spring be near? I hope so, as spring and fall are my favorite seasons. The winter is too cold and the summer too hot, but spring and fall are just right — at least from my perspective.

The big issue this week seemed to be the possibility of two Queens hospitals closing. They are St. John’s Queens and Mary Immaculate. Both are among the busiest. If they close, where do their patients go for care? With the economy as critical as it is, where do all the employees for both hospitals go to find employment — especially in a time when the unemployment insurance program is in dire straits?

Both St. John’s Queens and Mary Immaculate have held rallies to focus attention on what will become a blueprint for disaster affecting Queens residents in their areas.

Years ago there were more than 20 hospitals in Queens; that number has been cut in half, despite the fact that in the interim the Queens population has increased exponentially. In addition, the hospitals are required to treat undocumented and regular immigrants, who for the most part are uninsured. From what I understand, Medicare and Medicaid not only reimburse the hospitals way below their actual cost, but also are slow in the payment department as well. Is it any wonder these hospitals are in dire financial emergency status?

What is the solution to the problem? We can’t just let people suffer and die do to a lack of proper care, whether they can afford it or not.

Universal health care has been suggested and there are both pros and cons to that solution. Most people would rather have a choice or at least something to say about their health care.

Many people feel the best way to mess things up is to put the government in charge. Some have suggested the formation of neighborhood walk−in health clinics, which could be staffed by a nurse practitioner who could in turn recommend patients with more serious conditions to a hospital. That would seem to cut down on hospital emergency room crowding, as many uninsured use the ERs as their primary care provider at a greater cost than a walk−in clinic.

Let’s face it: A splinter, a scrape from a fall, a cold, etc., could be treated in the aforementioned clinic, but is it practical? What would be the cost to set these clinics up? I do not know the answer, but the city Health Department or some such agency surely has to come up with something — and soon.

And what do you think of our new U.S. senator? Her name is Kirsten Gillibrand and she is from upstate New York. She is no Hillary Clinton, but then again, who is?

Poor Gov. David Patterson took a lot of heat and flak for his choice of Gillibrand, an upstate conservative Democratic. Part of Patterson’s reasoning was that upstaters are New Yorkers, too, and they also deserve representation and to have their issues addressed as well.

Come on, guys, give the lady a break. Let’s see what she can do.

When she visited southeast Queens last week, she made a favorable impression on those present. She also indicated that she was going to do her best to represent the entire state. You can’t ask for more than that, can you?

For those of you who disagree with some of her beliefs, talk to her. Explain why you believe your solutions are better than hers. Perhaps you can persuade her or at least arrive at a compromise. Isn’t that what we elect our officials to do?

Congratulations to Liz Berney on becoming the proud grandmother of her first grandson.

Liz, if you recall, challenged Gary Ackerman for his 5th Congressional seat.

To the best of our knowledge, since his getting elected to the seat years ago, Gary has never been beaten and proudly stands on his record.

That’s it for this week.

I look forward to hearing from you with information on people, parties and politics or gossip.

I look forward to receiving your voice mails at 718−767−6484, faxes at 718−746−0066 and your e−mails at deerrichard@aol.com.

Don’t forget to check out the “Focus on Queens” page.

Till next week, Dee.

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