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Nearly 50 City Candidates Demand State to Increase Hospital Capacity in Queens

Nearly 50 candidates running for office sign onto a letter calling on the state to expand hospital capacity in Queens Photo: Elmhurst Hospital (QueensPost)

June 7, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A group of candidates running for office are demanding the state add more hospitals in Queens.

Three current council members and nearly 50 candidates — including mayoral, comptroller and council hopefuls — penned a letter last week to New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to demand he expand hospital capacity in the borough.

The candidates say the pandemic exposed the vulnerability of Queens’ healthcare infrastructure when COVID-19 patients quickly overwhelmed hospital capacity. The borough became known as the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest healthcare crisis of our lifetimes,” the letter states. “Tragically, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the deep vulnerability of our community.”

Queens has the fewest hospital beds per capita among the five boroughs. For every 1,000 Queens residents, there are just 1.5 hospital beds, according a Bloomberg analysis of NYC Health Dept. data and U.S. Census data. Manhattan, by comparison, has 6.4 beds for every 1,000 residents.

Capacity has drastically decreased over the past two decades as several hospitals in Queens have closed. For instance, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flushing closed its doors in 2004; New Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills shut down in 2008; both Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica and St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst closed in 2009; and Peninsula Hospital Center in Far Rockaway shuttered in 2012.

“The consequences have been devastating,” the candidates said in the letter. “We have needlessly lost loved ones, friends, and neighbors. The lives lost underscore that there is nothing more important than access to healthcare and to ensure that Queens will be under-served no more.”

Just a few months ago, Queens leaders were worried that the borough’s hospital capacity could dip even lower after a consulting company floated the idea to downsize the Rockaways’ lone hospital, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. State officials later said that no decisions on the future of the hospital have been made.

The candidates demanded Zucker immediately halt any possible reduction of hospital capacity in Queens — and instead, expand it.

“New York State continues to rob Queens of essential hospital capacity and resources,” said Lynn Schulman, a council candidate running for District 29, who created the letter. “This must stop before more needless deaths occur.”

The candidates urged the City to invest in Queens by building more community health centers and expand hospital capacity across the borough.

“We are sending this sign on letter to ensure that we move these issues to the forefront,” the letter states. “Our lives can not be put in jeopardy because of the government’s inability to make smart decisions about our public health.”

Queens council candidates who signed onto the letter include:

Adriana Aviles, Candidate for City Council District 19
Sandra Ung, Candidate for City Council District 20
Hailing Chen, Candidate for City Council District 20
Evie Hantzopoulos, Candidate for City Council District 22
Linda Lee, Candidate for City Council District 23
Alfonso Quiroz, Candidate for City Council District 25
Shekar Krishnan, Candidate for City Council District 25
Brent O’Leary, Candidate for City Council District 26
Jonathan Bailey, Candidate for City Council District 26
Emily Sharpe, Candidate for City Council District 26
Julia Forman, Candidate for City Council District 26
Julie Won, Candidate for City Council District 26
Hailie Kim, Candidate for City Council District 26
Amit S. Bagga, Candidate for City Council District 26
Badrun Khan, Candidate for City Council District 26
Sultan Maruf, Candidate for City Council District 26
Nantasha Williams, Candidate for City Council District 27
Kerryanne Burke, Candidate for City Council District 27
Lynn Schulman, Candidate for City Council District 29
Douglas Shapiro, Candidate for City Council District 29
Avi Ciperstein, Candidate for City Council District 29
Aleda Gagarin, Candidate for City Council District 29
Felicia Singh, Candidate for City Council District 32
Jennifer Gutierrez, Candidate for City Council District 34

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