health, mind and body

Bishop renews his vow to keep hospital in Far Rockaway

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The last remaining hospital on the Rockaway peninsula is “not going out of business,” the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island said on Monday.

Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano renewed a vow he made at a public forum in March 2014. “St. John’s will survive,” he said on Monday. “We are not going away.”

The 240-bed St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, owned by the diocese, is an essential public health facility serving Far Rockaway and the Five Towns, as well as points to the west that were formerly serviced by Peninsula Hospital Center, which closed in 2012.

The occasion of Monday’s commitment was the introduction by Bishop Provenzano of Gerard “Jerry” Walsh as St. John’s new chief executive officer, marking the first time in two decades that the hospital will not rely on outside management firms to run the institution on behalf of its board and the diocese.

Provenano pointed out that St. John’s has been doing charitable work at its Beach 19th Street location for 110 years, and by choosing Walsh as its new CEO, is making a firm statement that it will continue to do so for the long haul.

“We are committed as a faith-based safety net hospital to continue to do this work,” Bishop Provenano said. “ St. John’s hospital has no short term or long term plan to close.”

Walsh, 59, has a 17-year track record of turning around small troubled hospitals in Maryland, and is looking forward to returning to in Queens, where he grew up.

“I’m thrilled to be back here, where all my family is located,” said Walsh, who was born in Jamaica, raised in East Emhurst, and earned a degree in healthcare administration from St. John’s University. His first assignment was managing a nursing unit. “I started from the bottom and worked my way up,” he said.

“The reality of hospitals is where patients get cared for, not the administrative or financial departments.”

Walsh said he views his St. John’s assignment as a opportunity for “creating change.”

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