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First, I want to thank the members of our community who fought to keep Peninsula Hospital open. To those who spoke up at a recent public hearing held by the state Department of Health, I heard your concerns and share your outrage. It is unacceptable that the DOH has opted not to ensure that local families have access to the health care they need.
Peninsula’s closing has left St. John’s Hospital as the only one on the Rockaway Peninsula, which is now forced to service 130,000 year-round residents in addition to the influx of tourists who travel to our area in the summer months. As a result, St. John’s has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of emergency department patients.
While I am confident in the ability of St. John’s to handle the influx of patients in the short term, in an emergency every second counts and an increase in patient volume or an extra 10-minute ambulance ride could mean the difference between life and death.
In light of this, as one immediate solution it is critical that the Addabbo Health Center be given the opportunity to expand and provide quality health care services for the families of the Rockaways who now have to go without a nearby hospital.
In addition, residents who live on the western end of the peninsula are at least 20 minutes from St. John’s’ emergency room and farther from Brooklyn emergency care. We are in desperate need of an urgent care facility that can service the entire peninsula and give residents access to an emergency room to potentially save their lives.
Both immediate actions would create employment opportunities for the nearly 1,000 former employees of Peninsula Hospital who lost their jobs when it closed.
With decreased access to quality and affordable health care for the southern Queens and Rockaway community, the health and safety of our families is in jeopardy. The closure of Peninsula Hospital has left hundreds without jobs. I urge the DOH to respond to the questions posed at the public hearing and put in place a real plan to keep our children and families safe.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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