Bankrupt hospital nets potential buyer

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Steve Mosco

The shuttered Peninsula Hospital has a potential buyer, a source familiar with the negotiations said.

A group led by former board of directors member Michael Melnicke has emerged as a strong candidate to purchase Peninsula Hospital in Edgemere, which closed in April after running out of operating cash, according to the source, who asked not to be identified.

Melnicke is the administrator of Rockaway Care Center and also operates Park Nursing Home in Rockaway; Regency Extended Care Center in Yonkers, N.Y.; Hempstead Park Nursing Home in Hempstead, L.I.; and Caton Park Nursing Home in Brooklyn.

He is also a member of the International Conference of Police Chaplains and the New York Board of Rabbis.

The hospital is currently under the control of court-ordered bankruptcy trustee Lori Lapin Jones, a Long Island bankruptcy law attorney.

Jones currently serves as a Chapter 7 trustee on the panel of Trustees for the Eastern District of New York and as a court-appointed mediator in the Southern and Eastern districts of New York.

Neither Melnicke nor Jones could not be reached for comment.

State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) said he heard rumors over the past few months that Melnicke was involved in negotiations to potentially purchase the hospital, but he has not been involved in any of the talks.

“I would have liked to be involved in some of these talks. I don’t need to be aware as far as the finances are concerned, but I just want to make sure Rockaway gets a good partner that will look to develop the property to benefit the community,” he said. “I’m a big fan of openness and of community involvement — you can’t go wrong involving people in the process to ensure it is done fairly with the best interests of the community in mind.”

Goldfeder said he hopes any buyer for Peninsula that emerges will take seriously the task of providing urgent care to the people of the Rockaways.

“Immediately, we need space for an urgent care center,” he said. “As it stands right now, if someone has a heart attack or is drowning, the closest facility is easily 15 or 20 minutes away. This building is centrally located and can serve people across the peninsula in a timely manner.”

Peninsula filed for bankruptcy protection last year when it was faced with $13 million in debt. In July, Consumer Reports magazine released its nationwide ratings of hospital safety and Peninsula Hospital finished second in the city behind NYU-Langone Medical Center in Manhattan.

Goldfeder said the Rockaways need Peninsula’s standard of care to return to the community.

“Regardless of who wins the bid for the property, I’m hopeful we can find a way to ensure the buyer works with the Department of Health to partner and bring urgent care back to the Rockaways,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who buys it, just give us the health care we need.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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