This letter was submitted by Elisa Hinken.
Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway was closed on April 9. The surge of patients across the border into Nassau County has been felt.
My daughter, a firemedic with the (volunteer) reports that increased emergency room wait time has been experienced at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside. Others have reported the same thing at Franklin General in Valley Stream. Meanwhile, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, which also serves the Five Towns in Nassau County, has experienced extensive waiting times for emergency care and is frequently on ambulance diversion.
New York State Department of Health held a public forum, as mandated by PHL 2801-g, on Thursday, May 10, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 333 Beach 90 Street. Dr. Shah, Commissioner of Health attended, as did Richard Cook, James Clancy and Celeste Johnson, assistant commissioners. Over 400 residents of the Rockaway peninsula, Five Towns and nearby communities attended. Testimonies were taken and recorded. Written comments were also submitted.
A wide range of topics were presented to the panel, who were there solely to listen to the community as to the impact of a closed hospital has. Within 60 days the commissioner must publish the plan to ameliorate the situation and impact on the entire Rockaways/Five Towns community. We know that St. John’s Episcopal Hospital has plans to expand services in order to lessen the impact, but there is no replacement for a second emergency room on the peninsula. Already St. John’s Episcopal Hospital has been on ambulance diversion numerous times, pushing patients further into the Nassau County areas. South Nassau Communities Hospital, Franklin General and Winthrop are also feeling this “push back” effect. A level I trauma Emergency Room at Jamaica Hospital cannot be considered as an alternative because of the tremendously heavy traffic flow on Rockaway Turnpike and the Van Wyck Expressway.
We ask for support from the Five Towns community to share their ideas and concerns on the Rockaway Health Care Alliance page on Facebook. Before a terrible tragedy occurs, emergency hospital access should be the highest priority for the community.
You can read the law concerning the hospital closure law here: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=447252841967314 — it is on a Facebook page run by a group called the Rockaway Health Care Alliance.