Long walks for the most injured locals
HEGHTS PROSPECTUS – It’s not something the Rockaway Peninsula people like to think about – but the question is always there. In the worst case – a serious car accident, for example – where is the nearest trauma center where an ambulance can transport the victims?
The response to the 115,000 people living in the Queens Peninsula should be disturbing: there are no trauma centers anywhere on the 11-mile-long strip.
The fact that there is no trauma center capable of dealing with the victims of car accidents, shootings, stabbings and other major disasters raises concerns among residents, community leaders and elected officials.
There is a unit in the area, St. Paul’s Episcopal Hospital. John, a 257-bed medical unit with an emergency department that handles about 44,000 cases a year. The ER was expanded in 2020, increasing it in size from 10,000 square meters to 21,000 square meters. But it’s not a trauma center.
The difference between an emergency room and a trauma center is this: While emergencies can deal with a variety of medical issues, including heart attacks and strokes, a trauma center can manage traumatic injuries, such as injuries. by shooting or stabbing, or the type suffered. in serious road accidents.
Patients suffering from traumatic injuries on the peninsula are transported to the nearest level 1 trauma center, Jamaica Hospital in Queens – about 8-10 miles away.
If there is a traffic jam, valuable time is wasted. “People usually go to the Jamaica Hospital on Van Wyck (Expressway). When was Van Wyck never crowded? There aren’t many days when it flows freely, “said Mike Long, who lives in Breezy Point, at the westernmost tip of the peninsula.
When a 22-year-old police officer was shot by suspects trying to steal his car on Beach Channel Drive on February 1, he was taken by patrol car to Jamaica Hospital.
In some cases, patients are taken to Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, which, like Jamaica Hospital, is a Level 1 trauma center. Both Jamaica and Coney Island hospitals are connected to the Rockaway Peninsula by bridges. .
“It’s amazing that there is only one hospital with an area like this,” said Father Bill Sweeney, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Church in Belle Harbor. He noted that residents of the peninsula include a large number of police officers and firefighters who are married to nurses and added: “They are familiar with health care. They know he can’t go on like this. “
According to the residents, the solution is simple: either build a new hospital somewhere on the peninsula so that there are two hospitals to serve the public, or modernize the Episcopal St. John in a trauma center. Officials at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital say they are willing for the unit to increase its status.
“We are committed to conducting a study to assess what level of trauma certification we can obtain and will share it with our local elected officials, in the hope that they will be able to support us with the funding we will need to make this happen. ” said Renee Hastick-Motes. Vice President of Foreign Affairs.
Certification for a new trauma unit will need city and state approval, none of which appear to have been received. Neither the city nor the state health departments responded to requests for interviews from The Tablet.
Councilwoman Joann Ariola, a Republican representing the peninsula, said the electorate agreed with the idea of a new hospital.
“It simply came to our notice then. There are elected officials who are both at the state and city level who are interested in seeing this. But we do not want to see the Episcopalian of St. John fail to receive the proper funding he needs. We want to improve what is already there, “she said.
Queens Community Board 14, which covers the peninsula, has been advocating for a solution for years.
It’s not just that there’s no trauma center. The fact that there is only one hospital on the entire peninsula is significant because it translates into longer waiting times at St. John’s Diocese Emergencies, officials said.
“St. John’s is doing its best, but the emergency room is often very crowded,” said District 14 Board Director Jonathan Gaska.
Hastick-Motes said the overcrowding is real, but does not negatively affect healthcare. “Are there any times when our emergency room is busy? Absolutely, like other hospitals in the city. We have created innovative ways to help manage emergency room visits, ”she added.
The Peninsula had a second hospital, but the state closed Peninsula Hospital in 2012.
It was one of dozens of hospitals in the state targeted for restructuring or closure by the Berger Commission, a blue ribbon group appointed by then-Governor George Pataki in 2005 to streamline healthcare. The Commission issued its recommendations in 2006.
A decade after its closure, the loss of Peninsula Hospital is still being felt.
When firefighter Jesse Gerhard crashed into his Far Rockaway fire station, Ladder 134, on February 16, a day after he and his colleagues fought a two-alarm fire on Beach Channel Drive, he was rushed. the St. John’s Episcopal – two miles from the fire station – where he was pronounced dead. Staircase 134 is located around the corner from where the Peninsula Hospital once stood.
When Council 14 recently voted to approve a housing development plan for the former Peninsula Hospital, it also called for a trauma center to be built there.
The discussion on health care comes at a time when the peninsula’s development plans are advancing – bringing with it the prospect of more people coming to live there.
“The city is continuously approving several affordable housing units. We are currently talking about 11,000 units over the next three years. So it’s probably about 30,000 more people, “Gaska said. “And our hospital isn’t getting bigger.”