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Threatened Closure Of Peninsula Hospital In Queens Worries Residents, Staff

If Doors Shut Only One Facility -- St. John's -- Would Be Left To Serve 100,000
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Peninsula Hospital

Cash-strapped Peninsula Hospital in Queens may soon be closing its door, much to the chagrin of the nearby residents. (Photo: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens hospital is in desperate need of a lifeline.

Peninsula Medical Center is going bankrupt and facing closure. Now, employees and patients say the fight is on, reports CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

It’s the talk among patients and staff in the Edgemere section of Queens.

“No, we cannot close the hospital. It’s not acceptable, not acceptable,” one resident said.

“You don’t have to wait four hours to see a doctor. They let you right in with the children,” said Michael Pruitt of Far Rockaway.

The threatened closure of the 104-year-old facility would leave only one hospital serving the Rockaways and its 100,000 residents, with new beachfront condos ready to bring more.

“It’s a shame, really. Everybody in this community, including myself and my family, we’re all from this neighborhood,” X-ray technician Kevin Harnisher said.

Harnisher said he loves his job, but is one of about 1,000 workers facing unemployment.

The 174-bed facility is said to be $60 million in debt, much of it owed to vendors, coupled with losses in Medicaid funding. Chronic arthritis sufferer Ruby Smith has lived across the street for decades.

“There’s only two hospitals out here. We really need Peninsula,” the 72-year-old said.

In a statement, a hospital spokesperson said, “[We have] attempted to make Peninsula financially viable in the current difficult economic market. Without a long-term solution that puts the hospital on the path to fiscal recovery. An organized closure may be the only option.”

Longtime nurses have planned a rally for next Wednesday to fight the closure.

“There’s no way one hospital in this community will last. It just cant happen,” one nurse said.

The next nearest hospital is St. John’s, about 40 blocks away. Residents said its already crowded and not full service, meaning trauma cases — like gunshot wounds and other major medical emergencies — would go to Jamaica Hospital, 10 miles away.

If Peninsula Hospital does shut down, it would be the fourth hospital to close in Queens since 2008.

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