Friday, October 2, 2009

Queens Elected Officials and Healthcare Advocates Urge Governor Paterson to Sign the “Hospital Closure Planning Act” Into Law

Queens elected officials gathered today outside Queens Hospital Center to urge Governor David Paterson to sign into a law the “Hospital Closure Planning Act,” which was delivered to the governor last Tuesday. This bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Rory Lancman and Senator Shirley Huntley, would require the NYS Department of Health to hold public hearings and produce a report on the impact of a hospital's closure on the surrounding community's access to medical care. The law would apply retroactively to the closings of Mary Immaculate and St. John's hospitals in Queens in February 2009, resulting in the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of these closings and the only planning to date on how to meet the ongoing health-care needs of affected communities.

“A hospital's closing should not mean the closing off of health-care services for the surrounding community, but that's what happens unless the state listens to the community and makes plans meeting its health-care needs," said Assemblyman Lancman. "We may not be able to stop a hospital from closing, but we ought to be able to measure the impact of that closing and come up with a plan for serving the residents who relied on that hospital for health-care services," said Assemblyman Rory Lancman.

“With the recent closure of three Queens Hospitals, this legislation is sorely needed. The impact of the closures, together with cut-backs in community services has created what I predicted years ago- a Health Care Crisis in Queens. Now, hospitals like Queens Hospital and those that remain are strained, over-crowded and severely under-bedded. This legislation will shed a public light on any closure plan and finally allow the public and the legislature to weigh in on important decisions before any other hospital closes- a scenario that is simply untenable in Queens. I thank Assemblyman Lancman and all the sponsors in the Assembly and the Senate for the legislation which I wholeheartedly support,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

“Particularly during times of economic distress, we must do everything possible to protect access to essential health care services for all New Yorkers. This legislation will help the state develop a comprehensive plan to accurately assess our ability to meet the medical needs of our local communities. I applaud Senator Shirley Huntley and Assemblyman Rory Lancman for their efforts to deliver upon the promise of a healthy future for their constituents and urge the Governor to sign this legislation,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith.

"The effects of hospital closures are far reaching and widely felt. I urge the Governor to sign this much needed legislation to ensure that all of Queens County continues to have access to quality, affordable health care." stated Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer

“I urge the Governor to sign this bill because it is imperative that we have contingency plans when hospitals are forced to close. The impact to the communities affected by these closures can be extremely disruptive as has been the case here in Queens,” said Assemblyman DenDekker.