The New Parkway Hospital closure costs jobs – QNS.com

The New Parkway Hospital closure costs jobs

According to the union, the recent state-mandated closure of The New Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills has left unemployed 300 full-time workers and the balance part-timers, most of whom were laid off without proper notice, they claim.
The majority of the employees who lost their jobs received their termination notice on the day of the hospital’s closure, November 5, or after that, said Errol Ramsay of 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the union representing the entire Parkway staff with the exception of management, administration and doctors.
One of these people is Norie Torres, 42, who had been employed by Parkway for 23 years, working with x-ray files. Torres, of Woodhaven, said her husband and two teenage kids depend on her income.
Torres explained that on November 5 she was given a letter which read that the hospital has to close due to a ruling of The New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, better known as The Berger Commission.
In 2006, The Commission issued a report which declared that Parkway should close on October 30 because of management, quality and financial issues. Another closure reason The Commission cited was that Parkway “was not an essential hospital” and that “surrounding hospitals can absorb the acute care demand.”
Although Torres knew that Parkway tried to fight the ruling of The Commission by going to court, she said she didn’t expect things to end so abruptly. “They kept promising us ‘Everything’s gonna be fine; hang on.’ We hung on, but then they drop us like this.”
Another staff member, a woman who worked there for 16 years analyzing patients’ charts, echoed that sentiment. “We were always thinking about [the closure], but at the same time we had our hopes. We were hoping for a miracle,” said the employee, who wished to remain anonymous.
“It was like a shock, knowing my home situation, my family depending on my salary,” she said, explaining that her husband had been laid off just three months ago.
The woman, of Rego Park, said she worries about her job prospects. “I’m afraid - not because of [the economy], but because of my age - I’m almost 60. It’s early for me to retire, but it’s too late for me to start from the beginning again.”
The law requires that employees who received their termination notice on or after the day of closure now need to receive pay for 60 days, said Steven Kramer, executive vice president of 1199 SEIU.
He explained that 1199 SEIU will help the laid-off staff with health care and supplemental unemployment benefits. The union will also assist them in finding work at other health care facilities and it will provide them with job training, Kramer added.
“We hope we can have everybody placed within six months,” he said. But Kramer also expressed concern about the layoffs expected at other hospitals as a result of gaps in the state budget. “Employers are cutting back,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Parkway’s closing day, its last 18 patients were transferred to other health care facilities, said Fred Stewart, spokesperson for the hospital, located at 70-44 Grand Central Parkway. Anticipating closure, Parkway had stopped accepting new admissions and scheduling surgeries, Stewart explained.
“Parkway is still offering some services, including its wound care, Hyperbaric Program and its nationally-accredited Sleep Disorder Center,” said Stewart. “There are discussions about repositioning the facility as a health care pavilion.”
He said it’s impossible to say exactly which hospitals will absorb the patients that would have normally visited Parkway, a 251-bed facility.
The emergency department of nearby NS/LIJ Forest Hills Hospital is now seeing 10 more patients a day, which is not a strain, said Jeffrey Horwitz, director of the hospital’s emergency department.
Horwitz explained that his department had expected about 20 more people a day as a result of Parkway’s closure and prepared for it by adding staff in July. It might be early to measure the impact of Parkway’s closure on other hospitals, Horwitz added.

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