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In Wake of Rezonings, Renewed Call for More Health Facilities on Hospital-Starved Rockaway Peninsula

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Residential rezonings, including one approved this summer for Edgemere, are poised to bring thousands of new apartments to the Rockaways over the next decade, but just a single hospital has served the peninsula since 2012. A new task force is being asked to create a roadmap for expanding local healthcare services, including a facility that offers trauma care.

Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams and other elected officials cutting the ribbon on a new housing development

At a ribbon cutting for an affordable housing development in Far Rockaway in August, Mayor Eric Adams lauded the project—which built 224 apartments on vacant, city-owned land along Beach 21st Street—as a key success story of the city’s 2017 20-block rezoning of the neighbourhood, which housing officials say has paved the way for some 2,000 income-restricted apartments so far.

Another rezoning, approved by the City Council in July, could bring up to 1,200 new apartments to nearby Edgemere, which officials say will help fill the city’s desperate need for affordable housing. It’s one of several projects with the potential to transform swaths of the Rockaway peninsula, where the population grew by nearly 8 percent between 2010 and 2020, census data shows.

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One thing that hasn’t grown: the number of hospitals. Since 2012, when Peninsula Hospital Center closed its doors, Rockaway has had just one full-service hospital facility, to the dismay of residents and elected officials. But with the expected influx of new local development, that should change, they argue. A petition calling for a trauma care center—a designation the peninsula’s lone St. John’s Episcopal Hospital doesn’t have—earned more than 800 signatures in the last week.

“They should have built another trauma hospital instead of more apartments,” one signatory wrote.