St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens (N.Y.), has streamlined services in a bid to shore up its balance sheet, hinted at layoffs and is exploring merger opportunities with other systems
In a statement, St. John's interim Chief Executive Richard Brown said he had "apprehension about the fortunes of safety-net hospitals like St. John's Episcopal Hospital and the lack of state and federal support, particularly in the Rockaways. Like other safety-net hospitals, St. John's is under financial and regulatory pressures" but was also committed to making necessary changes to remain a provider serving the Rockaways.
St. John's is the only remaining hospital
in the Rockaways since the closure of Peninsula Hospital in April 2012.
The hospital has made a number of recent cost-cutting moves. Mr. Brown said St. John's had the "encouragement" of the state Department of Health to relocate its family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics clinics to the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Centers in Rockaway. St. John's hopes to build a $1.7 million specialty care clinic across the street from the hospital. Relocating the ambulatory clinics was necessary to make room for an upcoming $15 million expansion of the emergency department.
The Episcopal Health Services is also selling its two nursing homes, Bishop MacLean and Bishop Hucles. It shut down its separate chemical-dependency unit but will continue to provide detoxification services at existing inpatient units. Those beds will be converted to medical/surgical use.
The hospital is managed under contract with Pitts Management. According to EHS' 2011 tax documents, Pitts was paid $6.7 million for the management contract. The Baton Rouge, La., management company also had a contract with Long Island College Hospital.
Mr. Brown, who last month replaced Pitts consultant Nelson Toebbe as CEO, said EHS "is considering all necessary action, including possible layoffs" to cut expenses and stay afloat. While Mr. Brown said the EHS board is exploring a merger, his statement included a cryptic reference to an obvious partner.
"To date, no overtures to EHS have been made by North Shore-LIJ," he said.
A spokesman for the North Shore-LIJ Health System said, "We have not been contacted but will definitely take their call."" Layoffs, merger likely for Queens hospital" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.