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Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica and St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst will no longer be taking emergency room patients as of Saturday after its parent corporation failed to secure urgently needed funding and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for creditors Friday.
Craig Horowitz, a spokesman for Caritas, said the two hospitals were set to close completely within the next 30 days.
In its filing for Chapter 11, Caritas Health Care said it was roughly $100 million in the red with $88 million in assets and $188 million in liabilities, according to court papers.
Caritas “has experienced financial difficulties caused both by problems in existence prior to the debtor’s acquisition [from St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers] of the Caritas Hospitals and those arising in the course of subsequent turn-around efforts,” the corporation said in its filing in federal bankruptcy court in Brooklyn. “Like many entities in this difficult economic environment, the debtor has continued to experience significant losses despite various efforts to improve financial performance. As the debtor’s financial condition continued to worsen, the debtor found itself unable to maintain its ongoing operations.”
Among Caritas’ largest creditors are the state Dormitory Authority ($54.95 million), the 1199 SEIU hospital workers’ pension fund ($3 million) and benefit fund ($2.65 million), and St. Vincent’s ($9.1 million).
During the last few weeks, the corporation appealed to the state for $36 million in cash that it said it needed to continue operating, but was unable to obtain the funding.
Adoja Gzifa, the chairwoman of Community Board 12, blamed the state for not helping out Caritas. Mary Immaculate is located in CB 12.
“If you are doing a procedure and it costs $100 and you give me $5, how am I supposed to conduct the procedure?” she said. “I know we are in fiscal dire straits, but we cannot stop serving the poor people in the community.”
Horowitz said Mary Immaculate and St. John’s would halt their emergency room operations Saturday and begin diverting emergency patients to nearby hospitals.
Vincent Arcuri, a member of Caritas’ board of directors, said the closing date will partly depend on the inflow of patients and warned that Elmhurst Hospital, which lies near St. John’s, was already operating at 98 percent capacity.
He said Elmhurst would probably have to get a loan from the state to open more beds – money that had not been available to St. John’s or Mary Immaculate.
“I think they won’t have a choice now,” Arcuri said. “They’ll have to do that.”
He said the former administrators of recently closed Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills may be interested in purchasing either or both hospitals.
Caritas signed an agreement in November to negotiate exclusively with the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, which had discussions with the corporation in taking over either or both hospitals.
North Shore-LIJ spokesman Terry Lynam said the health system is having discussions with Caritas and the state over how it can assist in caring for Caritas’ patients.
He said Forest Hills Hospital, which is owned by North Shore-LIJ, is taking steps to increase capacity so it can take emergency cases that would have been brought to St. John’s. He said the health system would not need to take out loans to open more beds.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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