Queens Hospitals Overcrowded in Wake of Recent Closings

By Jillian Scharr
|  Monday, May 24, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM EDT
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Queens Hospitals Overcrowded in Wake of Recent Closings

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BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 09: Consultant Surgeon Andrew Ready checks on his patients on the wards of The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on June 9, 2006, in Birmingham, England. Kidney failure patient Carol Playfair was given the chance of life when her sister Tracey Playfair offered one of her own perfect kidneys to help save the life of Carol. The operation at The QE Hospital, part of The University Hospital's Trust was one of 1500 live donor transplants carried out in the United Kingdon every year. Despite the introduction of Donor Cards, there are still too few kidneys available to help all those who require a transplant, thereby producing a waiting list and the only chance of survival is by live donor. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

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After a series of hospital closures and reduced state support -- most recently the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan -- many New York City hospitals are severely overcrowded, particularly in the borough of Queens.

St. Vincent’s, the last Catholic general hospital in New York City, closed on Apr. 28. 

Three other Queens hospitals, including Mary Immaculate Hospital, a Level 1 Trauma center, closed in the past two years, leaving Queens with the smallest bed-to-resident ratio in the city, Kenneth Raske, President of the Greater New York Hospital Association, told the Wall Street Journal.

According to the paper, in 2008 Queens had 1.7 beds per 1000 residents, as compared to 5.7 in Manhattan and 2.7 in the Bronx

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, a not-for-profit whose Emergency Room  was designed to handle 60,000 visits a year but saw 130,000 visits in 2009, a 30 percent increase from the previous year, a hospital spokesman told NBCNewYork. In the first three  months of this year, ER visits increased by another 10 percent.

According to the spokesman, although there is no direct relationship between Jamaica Hospital’s patient surge and St. Vincent’s closing last month, “each reflects the reality of the demographics in New York City.”

“There was no real meaningful communication, coordination, or planning on the part of the New York State Department of Health with the surrounding hospitals for the closing of Mary Immaculate so that the.. patient surge following the closing could be properly handled,” said the spokesman.

If another hospital were to close, Raske told the Washington Post, “it could precipitate a public health crisis."

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