New data from the American Hospital Association shows that Queens' hospitals are some of the most overcrowded in the country. A combination of hospital closings, a growing population and a high percentage of elderly residents have put the 10 remaining hospitals in the borough in a dangerous position. Kenneth E. Raske, president of Greater New York Hospital Association, told the Wall Street Journal, "They have the lowest bed-to-population ratio of any of the boroughs. It could precipitate a public-health crisis if one of them were to go down."
The recent closing of St. Vincent's hospital has brought to attention the risks of hospital closing, with other downtown Manhattan hospitals becoming crowded after picking up ex-St Vincent's patients, but Manhattan still has the highest bed to resident ratio of any borough, with almost 6 beds per 1,000 residents. Queens has the lowest, with only 1.7 beds per 1,000 residents. Queens has lost almost 700 beds in the past two years with the closings of Parkway Hospital, St. John's Hospital and Mary Immaculate Hospital. The closings have put an unnecessary strain on hospitals like Elmhurst Hospital, and many residents prefer schlepping to Long Island for treatment. Emil Silberman of Jamaica Hospital said, "We were designed for tops 60,000 patients a year. We're seeing 135,000. So unfortunately, it's challenging."
However, the Department of Health claims this is the first they've heard of any problems in the past few years, with spokeswoman Claire T. Pospisil saying, "We don't feel that there are not enough beds. We're in contact with many of the hospitals on a regular basis. I'm not aware that there's an issue here." Many of the borough's hospitals are in the process of adding new beds, with New York Hospital Queens adding 80 beds next month. But emergency medicine Diane M. Sixsmith said it would only be an "adequate" addition.