Hospital administration has reassured the public that it will not be closing, however they do admit to experiencing financial difficulties.
“We are committed to making necessary changes to keep St. John's Episcopal Hospital the principal provider of quality healthcare and education in the Rockaways and surrounding communities,” read a statement from Episcopal Health Services.
Never was the importance of St. John's to the Rockaways more evident than during and immediately after Hurricane Sandy. St. John’s was not a designated shelter, but the hospital did take in residents. However, since the hospital was not a set shelter, it was never reimbursed.
“We lost $5,000,000 by doing the right thing,” said St. John's union delegate Debbie Friedland. “Yet I’m proud of how everyone at SJEH pulled together to care for the community during this disaster.”
Elected officials and union members held a rally last week to urge hospital administration to come up with a workable plan to save the hospital that avoids cutting services and laying-off workers.
“There's no real threat to the hospital closing down,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, “The rally was more to get a message across to hospital administration. No one wants the hospital to close, the rally members were supporting the hospital.”
Episcopal Health Services has confirmed the possibility of future layoffs in order to preserve the hospitals healthcare operations.
St. John's has also relocated it's family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics clinics to the Addabbo Family Health Centers in Rockaway, and moved ambulatory clinics to make room for the expansion of the Emergency Department, which the hospital says is long overdue.
The relocation of these clinics will provide new opportunities to extend the St. John's post-doctoral training program, argues the administration. The hospital will also be building a new practice office for its specialty care clinics.
“EHS remains firmly committed to its mission as a provider of quality healthcare in the years to come and will actively pursue all opportunities to maintain EHS as s reliable healthcare resource,” continued the statement from Episcopal Health Services.