By Jeremy Walsh
Queens may have lost three hospitals over the past year, but the state is responding with $30 million in extra funding for the borough’s other hospitals and clinics, Gov. David Paterson announced at New York Hospital Queens Friday.
“Especially in Queens, we’re seeing overused emergency rooms,” Paterson said. “Families aren’t getting the routine primary care they need for preventative medicine.”
St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst, Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica and Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills have all closed their doors in the past 12 months, leaving the other facilities to pick up the slack. The $30 million comes in addition to $406 million being disbursed across the state as part of the HEAL NY program that encourages preventative care options to reduce the flow of patients in hospital emergency rooms.
“We want to bring the right care to the right place at the right time,” the governor said. “This is our idea of health care reform in New York.”
Flushing and southeast Queens got the lion’s share of the funding.
Flushing Hospital will get $4 million for a new ambulatory care center. New York Hospital Queens will receive $4 million to add 14 new treatment spaces to its emergency department. And the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center will get $400,000 to install a fire alarm system to complete a new, 12-room outpatient services expansion.
In the south of the borough, Jamaica Hospital will get $1 million to expand primary care services in St. Albans and the Hollis-Tudor OB/GYN clinic. Queens Hospital Center will get $4 million to expand geriatric care, create a wellness center and expand obstetric services. Meanwhile, Briarwood’s Damian Family Care Center is getting $1.6 million to build a new clinic in Jamaica and Arverne’s Joseph P. Addabbo Health Center is receiving $1.8 million to build a new location in South Ozone Park.
In western Queens, Elmhurst Hospital will receive $4 million to build a new women’s center in the neighborhood, while Mt. Sinai Hospital in Astoria will get $4 million to add 18 new treatment spaces to its emergency rooms and Forest Hills Hospital is getting $4 million to move its primary care facility into a larger space.
The Institute for Community Living will also receive $657,704 to open a clinic on Borden Avenue in Long Island City to serve special-needs patients like veterans and the homeless.
Borough President Helen Marshall noted the hospital closings eliminated 600 beds and emergency rooms that handled a combined 100,000 annual patient visits. Of those, Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica handled 50,000 visits.
“Thank God we have the Addabbo Center,” she said, referring to the family medical center in Far Rockaway.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) said she had been told about the funding last week.
“We are under-bedded, underfunded and overworked,” she said of the borough’s health care workers. “This is an important respite during this health care crisis.”
The money comes after the state provided $15 million earlier this year to aid the borough’s hospitals with the influx of patients who had been using St. John’s and Mary Immaculate hospitals.
“Unfortunately, this funding doesn’t address the need for additional staffers,” she said. “We hope we will see that in part two.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.