This post, about our ongoing efforts to encourage investment in health care in Southeast Queens, first appeared on the Equal Justice Works blog.
This is a guest post from Equal Justice Works Fellow Seth Cohen, an attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI). Seth is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP.
When NYLPI helped organize the Southeast Queens United in Support of Healthcare (SQUISH) coalition back in 2006, they may not have realized how big a role they’d have to play in developing New York’s health policy. Today, SQUISH is an independent community coalition that continues to give a voice to New Yorkers desperate for adequate medical care by raising awareness about issues that affect the delivery of services and advocating against the reduction and removal of critical health services. As part of NYLPI, I help provide legal and technical support on health policy issues for the organization.
Recently, local health facilities have been coping with the strain of hospital closures, including St. John’s Hospital and Mary Immaculate Hospital, bringing the total number of Queens hospitals closed in the last year to three. In response, $30 million in grants has been awarded by the State to be split among 12 medical facilities in the borough – four in Southeast Queens.
SQUISH and many advocates say this is a great first step, but argue that this isn’t enough. I agree. It is vital for health care in Southeast Queens – which is racially and ethnically diverse as well as severely medically under-served – to be improved, and the Department of Health has signaled an interest in doing so. But the State government is still responsible for coordinating a plan for the future of health care delivery in Queens. One suggestion is that a task force of all stakeholders be convened – including community leaders – around health care concerns in the area.
Read more about the grant and health care issues facing Queens here: http://www.queenstribune.com/news/1254415740.html.