Friday, March 5 at 11:30 AM

(March 4, 2021 at 3:00PM)

QUEENS, NY – Approaching the one-year anniversary of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital admitting Queens’ first confirmed COVID-19 patient, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and community leaders will gather outside the facility tomorrow, March 5, at 11:30AM to condemn a trio of reckless state proposals that would gut the Rockaway Peninsula’s only hospital, eliminate hundreds of jobs and further devastate Rockaway residents’ already limited access to high-quality healthcare.

The March 5 press conference comes in response to media reports regarding three dangerous plans for St. John’s Episcopal developed in coordination between the NYS Department of Health and a consulting firm. All three would result in mass layoffs of its dedicated staff, who have selflessly and heroically served on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the most extreme plan calls for the conversion of the 257-bed facility into a 15-bed “micro-hospital” — entities more commonly found in rural communities that offer little more than basic emergency and short-stay inpatient care. This press conference coincides with a letter from the Borough President to New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard A. Zucker.

“These insane proposals amount to a death sentence for our Rockaway communities, especially our Black and brown neighborhoods in Far Rockaway, where high-quality healthcare is already scarce. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we must greatly expand access to healthcare in our hardest hit, historically underserved communities — not eliminate it,” said Borough President RICHARDS. “Our healthcare heroes deserve praise, not pink slips. Rest assured that Queens will vigorously fight these horrendous plans until they are tossed in the trash where they belong.”

St. John’s Episcopal is currently the only full-service hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula, serving well over 100,000 residents across multiple diverse communities, following the closure of Peninsula Hospital Center in 2012. The closest full-service Queens hospital to St. John’s Episcopal is the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center campus 10 miles away — requiring a 30-minute drive by car or an approximately 70-minute ride on public transportation.

According to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s COVID-19 database, ZIP code 11691 — including the communities of Far Rockaway and Edgemere — has recorded 418 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and a fatality rate of 625 per 100,000 residents as of March 3, 2021, the third- and fourth-highest of any ZIP code in New York City, respectively.

Members of the media planning on attending the March 5 press conference are asked to RSVP via email at [email protected] or via phone at 718-286-2640. The press conference will also stream live on the Borough President’s Facebook page.

WHAT:         Borough President Richards, Community Leaders to Condemn Proposals to Gut St. John’s Episcopal Hospital

WHEN:         Friday, March 5 2021 at 11:30 AM

WHERE:       St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, 327 Beach 19th Street in Far Rockaway

WHO:            DONOVAN RICHARDS, Queens Borough President

Elected officials and community leaders

Follow the Office of the Queens Borough President via @QnsBPRichards on Twitter and @QueensBPRichards on Facebook and Instagram