By Jay Fidell
Perhaps it shows there will be fewer hospitals and less healthcare in our future, and that we’ll have greater inconvenience to healthcare access. Perhaps it also shows that the neighbor islands won’t be the only ones who will suffer doctor/healthcare shortages. All in all, quite scary.
So now, the two hospitals are closed. Their staffs are out of work. Their equipment and other assets are being sold. Hopefully, the transplant center will resurface in Queens Hospital once the Feds have finally approved the transfer. We hope that's soon, since transplant patients will necessarily incur huge expenses if they have to go to the mainland to finish the job.
Let's not look back at why these hospitals failed in the first place, but let's look at the fact that nobody bailed them out. No other buyer, government, private or non-profit organization was willing to take them over. They were seen more as black holes than community assets.
Surely something could have been done. Couldn’t the federal and/or state government or a consortium of other hospitals have kept them open? Was there no creative solution possible? It's disappointing to see institutions so important go away without a sound. We are all the losers.
No we have two large hospital properties lying dormant. We have thousands of skilled staff without jobs, many of whom will not be able to work or stay here, and who will have to leave or lose their skill over time. Once they move on they will be irreplaceable, lost to our community.
The way it works out is that we’ll have more unemployment, more pressure on the economy, more sick people who will have greater difficulty finding access to healthcare, and we’ll also have emergency transfers stuck on the freeway. All of this will require additional state funding and one way or the other we’ll all have to pay for it. It’s hard to find a bright side.
Suppose another hospital goes down. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. These two were apparently not too big to fail, but perhaps the next one will be too big to fail. Maybe next time somebody will step forward. We hope so because we can’t keep on losing critical services.