By Emily Drooby
Elmhurst Hospital in Queens is being called the center of the coronavirus crisis in New York city.
In just one day they lost 13 people to the deadly disease, and many more are still lining up outside this hospital just waiting to be tested.
Reports from inside say they’re overwhelmed.
But, for some long-time Queens residents and politicians this doesn’t come as a shock. Over 10 years ago, there were way more hospital beds in this area of the borough.
In 2008, Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, Queens closed its doors because of financial trouble.
They were followed in 2009 by St John’s Hospital in Elmhurst and their affiliate, Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica.
New York State assembly member Michael Dendekker remembers that time well.
“It was devastating to the community,” he explained. “I remember being up at a rally on St. John’s Queens Boulevard because we knew that we needed those beds.”
The hospitals were in dire financial troubles and there was no help to save them. Assembly member Dendekker says 400 beds disappeared when St. John’s closed and over 200 beds after Parkway shut its doors.
He’s been worried about medical care in this area of Queens for a long time, and how the government is not stepping up to help out.
“It’s very frustrating and what I would like to see is more investment by the federal government and the state government into new facilities or the rehab of some of the facilities that closed and have not been put to good use,” he said.
The assembly member says he and others talked with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently about relieving the pressure on Elmhurst Hospital and he hopes something happens soon.