Not Too Big to Fail, Just Too Important
by Anthony Stasi
Aug 03, 2011 | 6555 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With a congressional race and an assembly race happening in Rockaway this fall, there should be plenty to debate in regard to Peninsula Hospital. Hospitals in Queens have been closing for the last few years, and Rockaway cannot afford to have only one hospital.

Unlike other political issues, hospitals are a completely nonpartisan concern. No neighborhood benefits from a hospital closing or moving, the way it might if, for example, a prison moved away. Hospital jobs are at stake, but the real trouble here is that the Rockaway area will be without this emergency room, and without hospital beds.

If you know Rockaway, you know that there a lot of senior citizens living there. There is also, at times, behavior which unfortunately leads to a need for hospitals. The state has to step in on this, and find a way to bail out failing hospitals.

If the state has to appeal to the federal government, then so be it. We bail out auto makers. We

bail out insurance companies. We bail out banks. Bailouts come with restrictions, such as a change in management. Maybe that needs to happen as well. Letting hospitals close is a bad idea.

Keeping hospitals open is not the same as keeping failing schools open. Students can travel to a better school if necessary. Hospitals need to be nearby, and in a community like Rockaway, there is a need for a solution.

So here is one.

The issue of closing hospitals cannot happen without an initial revenue stream. Maybe that needs to come from government, with an added jolt from private foundations. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is constantly doling out money for education and housing. Foundations like this need to be tapped.

Hospitals in New York City might require a new managerial and financial structure. Harry Wilson was the Republican nominee for New York State comptroller last year. He was endorsed by every major New York newspaper, and he was part of the team that helped General Motors get back on track.

This is the type of person that the governor needs to put in charge of a committee that can oversee the survival and restructuring of our hospital system.

Hospitals did not go out of business in other recession periods - there is no shortage of sick people. There is no reason for us to let this happen.

If Peninsula needs a facelift, then it is worth the money. If Peninsula needs to merge with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, then it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Finance is more complicated when it comes to large institutions, but perhaps it’s not as complicated as we expect. We’ve become conditioned to expect these financial failures. At age 40, I do not remember schools and hospitals shutting down, save for the last fifteen years.

It seems as though it is no longer news to read about these closings. The state needs to bring in experts and fix the hospital problem. Failure is not an option.

Getting Out Of Town

There are jobs in North Dakota where oil is being drilled. North Dakota is one of the few states where companies are vastly looking to hire people. Why are people not moving there?

Sure it’s far away, and it’s freezing cold in the wintertime, but didn’t our immigrant ancestors move to where the work was? That was why so many of them washed ashore in New York City. There was work here.

People traveled west when opportunities were out west. Today, however, people are slower to move, even when technology makes it easier.

People can get to any other state (except for Hawaii and Alaska) in six hours. Yet, those in the country’s poorest areas, such as the Appalachian Kentucky region, stay right where they are, where they may never work.

At a meeting in Washington, D.C., I asked a law professor friend from Kentucky why people in the Appalachia area do not move to the Dakotas.

“They’ve been living there for generations,” he explained. “They love it there. And they get government assistance so they stay there. They get paid to live in Kentucky.”

I’m not sure if that is exactly how the poor in Appalachia see it, but he is right about people being on welfare for generations. I am not a “cut welfare” person, but if an area was economically depressed for generations, and another state had a jobs surplus, I think I would take the next bus out of town.
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