St. John's Emergency Upgrade

Rockaway residents rejoiced at the announcement of plans to revamp the emergency room at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. Hospital staff, local politicians, union representatives, and Clergy members were present at the hospital's public announcement on July 6th. St. John’s CEO Gerald M. Walsh proudly shared that the $10 million state grant will be used to provide crucial upgrades to the hospital’s overburdened emergency department.

Opened in 1905, St. John’s has spent over 110 years caring for Rockaway’s ill, a job that has only gotten more difficult in recent years. Since the closure of Peninsula Hospital Center in 2012, St. John’s has served as the peninsula’s only hospital, resulting in increased demand for the hospital’s resources. ER services have been stretched for decades and since the closure, ER visits have increased by 35%. The hospital’s’ current design was built to accommodate 15,000 ER patients per year, but St. John’s regular treats more than twice that number.

Last upgraded in 1962, the emergency room renovations are a welcomed change. St. John’s will utilize a $10 million grant from the New York State Department of Health to upgrade the emergency department facilities. Renovations include increased capacity for the ER, adult and pediatric care, private rooms for patients with mental health issues, and additional imaging and CT rooms. Additionally, a new primary care facility will open across the street. Christopher Parker, St. John’s Chief Operating Officer, is supportive of the renovations and is optimistic about how the upgrades will impact the community. At the announcement he said, “These changes were vital. We see about 45,000 patients. This emergency department could probably comfortably seat 12,000. So in order for us to really meet patients' needs, the community needs, this department really needed a massive restructuring.”

The hospital renovations will greatly improve the lives of many in this community. Currently, the next closest hospitals for Rockaway residents are in Brooklyn or Long Island. Having a fully equipped facility on the peninsula will reduce travel times in life threatening emergencies and will improve overall health care for thousands of residents. The renovations will also bring new job opportunities to the community.

At the hospital’s public announcement, State Senators James Sanders Jr. and Joseph Addabbo, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, and Democratic District Leader Lew Simon expressed their pleasure with the announced renovations and their gratefulness to the staff, residents, the 1199 SEIU coalition, and the governor for making quality healthcare a priority for the Rockaway community. Congressman Gregory Meeks said, “This is a tremendous day for Rockaway. Thank you to the Governor for giving the grant, but the Governor would not have moved without the efforts of the Assembly Statesmen and women. We are pushing together to get something to happen. Everyone has a right to health care; it is not a privilege for a few.”

The renovations are expected to be completed within the next two years.