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Rate of U.S. Hospital Closings Is Now at the Stage of a Public Health Emergency

April 10, 2009 (EIRNS)—The rate of shutdowns, and pending closures of hospitals across the U.S. is at the stage of a public health emergency. Especially in rural and inner city areas, hospitals are besieged by charity cases, and undercut from slow and reduced payments from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers. As facilities scale down and shut, the remaining hospitals are swamped. A few of the recent developments:

  • California: On April 10, the Los Gatos Community Hospital closed at 1 a.m. There were 450 jobs lost. All patients moved out April 6. The ER at another facility in town is now mobbed, the Good Samaritan Hospital.

  • New York: In the borough of Queens, two hospitals closed on Feb. 28, St. John's and Mary Immaculate. Now the remaining Jamaica Hospital and Forest Hills Hospital are overfull. Borough Pres. Helen Marshall toured their emergency rooms in March, "The whole floor was just people in those gurneys. They were packed together, one next to the other, and all down the halls. There were at least 20 that were waiting to be admitted, byt there were no beds. There was just no space." She called it, "a public health crisis." The situation is now commonplace in the boroughs.

  • Pennsylvania: Northeastern Hospital is to close on July 1 in Phildelphia. There is a furor over this. Its emergency room treats 50,000 patients a year in its. The facility delivered 1800 babies last year. "I think people will die because they won't get to an emergency room in time, and there won't be good follow-up care..." said the head of the intensive care unit.

  • South Carolina: In Greenville, the Shriners Hospital for Children—one of the top three in the nation, may shut as of July 1. It is an 82 year old facility, and vital throughout the region.

There are 22 Shriners' childrens hospitals nationwide, which are in the process of being down-sized, or in some cases, shut down, after decades of operation, providing highly-specialized and often free care.