During the period from the end of April until May 9 my mother was struggling with cellulitis and several other issues. Mom was 92 years old. The first time she was sent to St. John’s Hospital in Far Rockaway, it took six hours to get her out of the Emergency Room and into a regular room.
The second time, which was on May 8, it took nine hours. I can tell you that the staff at St. John’s was professional and gave Mom the treatment she needed from the very beginning. What I found out that day was that without the dedicated nursing staff and doctors who work there, it would have been a disaster. There were gurneys all over the hallways of the emergency room. Doctors and nurses ran from area to area giving treatment and giving us information about Mom’s condition. They were totally outnumbered and I have no idea how they could remember who got which treatment. Ambulance crews were standing around because their patients were still on the ambulance gurneys since there were no beds available at the hospital.
When Mom got to a room at 10:30 p.m., we found out that there were almost no beds available at the hospital and that ambulances were supposed to be diverted to other hospitals.
What scares me is that we have high rises being built in the Mott Avenue area, on Beach 116th Street, and Arverne By The Sea is a beautiful new neighborhood that is now being expanded into a section of nice rentals as well. We have a great ferry service bringing more tourists to the area. Many fall in love with the area and rent or buy places to live. This is great for Rockaway and Queens. It is also great for the New York City economy.
So where is the expansion of infrastructure needed to support the population growth? We are isolated on a peninsula, have a growing population and since the demise of Peninsula Hospital, we are limited to one overcrowded hospital that cannot handle the caseload on a regular Monday. God knows what it would be like if we had a real disaster or emergency situation.
Even without a disaster or an emergency situation I would like to believe that my 92-year-old mother, and others like her, deserve to die with the same dignity and respect that they lived their lives. The best hospital staff in the world can’t offer that if they are inundated with patients. We deserve better in the Rockaways. All of us. The elderly, children and any patient with a medical emergency.
I know that our local representatives have appealed for better medical services for our community, but I can tell you that judging from my recent experience we cannot wait. We are already in crisis. What we desperately need is a second hospital to replace Peninsula. I hope that you, our elected officials can figure out a way to bring our community the adequate care that we all deserve.
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