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Hospital Closures leave Local Residents Underserved

It’s not a good time to need emergency care in Western Queens, according to a local health expert who spoke at last week’s Community Board 2 meeting.

Three hospitals have closed (Parkway, Mary Immaculate and St Johns) in the past year that provided residents with a total number of 1,000 beds.  Today, residents of Western Queens (loosely defined as those living between Jackson Heights and LIC) are woefully underserved.

In Western Queens, there is just 1 bed per 1,000 residents, according to Caryn Schwab, the executive director of Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens.  This is far below the state average of 3.3 beds, or 7 beds per 1,000 residents in Manhattan.

But Schwab, who described this as a “looming health crisis,” came to the meeting with another message.

She promoted a partial solution—expanding Mount Sinai of Queens.

Schwab said that Mount Sinai of Queens, whose parent company took over Astoria General Hospital in 1999, plans to demolish a section of its Astoria-based hospital and build a nine-story building. “We have tried to bring Manhattan quality care to Queens,” she said. Since 1999, the hospital has added $40 million worth of technology.

The plan would “incrementally” increase its 235-bed facility up to 350 beds. However, it would be many years before that goal was realized since it would take about three years after the funds were raised before completion. To date, $125 million has been raised toward the $200 million project, leaving a $75 million shortfall.

The hospital is looking for philanthropic donations as well as state, city and the federal government to fund to meet this goal.

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