Queens needs hospital beds!
Apr 19, 2011 | 8154 views | 0 0 comments | 132 132 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city's health care industry is in dire financial straights indeed if no one is willing to take a shot at reopening the shuttered St. John's Queens Hospital in Elmhurst. This doesn't bode well for the future of Queens, which is suffering from a hospital bed shortage ever since St. John's and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica closed in 2009., after filing for bankruptcy.

Since then, officials have pointed to a growing health care crisis in the borough, but nothing has been done about it. With St. John's, a real opportunity exists to press the restart button on a centrally-located health care facility that would benefit hundreds of thousands of people.

But the developer of the site says nobody is interested in opening a new hospital. Instead, a proposal being considered by the city would turn St. John's into a mixed-used commercial and residential complex with a limited health care treatment facility.

At least some medical services will be retained, but that's not enough.

After St. John's and Mary Immaculate closed, patients who used the facilities flooded hospitals across Queens like Mt. Sinai and Elmhurst Hospital, which experienced a spike in emergency room visits. Those temporary increases are trending towards long-term reality. The state and city have done their best to help cover the overflows- Albany tapped Mt. Sinai for a $1 million grant soon after St. John's and Mary Immaculate closed, for example- but government resources are limited.

At some point, the private sector has to step in. And so far, that isn't happening.

One such effort is underway in Forest Hills, where an investment firm represented by a Queens medical industry professional is pushing to reopen Parkway Hospital, which closed in 2008, under a new name.

The group says it has $70 million for the project. But it hit a serious snag last month when the former hospital's executive, Dr. Robert Aquino, was indicted on charges in the federal government's influence-peddling case against Senator Carl Kruger.

Whether the plan can survive this remains to be seen.

In the meantime the borough is left with the prospect of yet another commercial/residential development at the St. John's site, on a stretch of Queens Boulevard that is already overcrowded with stores, and brimming with traffic. At the very least- if the plan is carried out- the abandoned, graffiti hospital building will be replaced.

As it stands, its simply a sad reminder of a bygone era.

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