Sunday, November 28, 2010
A growing community in western Queens could get the additional park land that local families and advocates have long been fighting for - if the city acts fast.
Friday, November 26, 2010
The Elmhurst Hospital Center, at 79-01 Broadway, received $1 million Friday to help build the new facility. The six-bed center will help diagnose and analyze patients complaining of chest pain, but will also divert cardiac patients away from an already-overcrowded emergency room, hospital officials said.
“Cardiac disease continues to grow in the community,” said Christopher Constantino, executive director of the hospital. “And now we can bring better services to these patients in less time.”
Doctors and nurses at the center, called the Chest Pain Observation Unit, will not only diagnose the various causes of chest pain, but can also treat the patients on site or send them to other care facilities in the neighborhood, which will alleviate pressure on an overworked hospital staff who have served a growing number of patients after two other care facilities in the area closed.
St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica closed two years ago, although the fallout is still palpable at the Elmhurst facility.
“Our volume is up 15 percent now that St. John’s closed,” Constantino said, adding that the Elmhurst emergency room is now one of the busiest in New York.
Constantino hopes that by diverting the chest pain sufferers away from the general emergency room patients, it will help both parties — chest pain victims get quicker care and other patients wait for less time.
The money was allocated in the City Council’s budget after Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) requested the funds for the overcrowded medical center.
“There is a need to expand medical services in my area,” Dromm said, “I wanted to give them expanded space to make hospital visits easier.”
The need to combat overcrowding is not only because other hospitals closed, Dromm added. The problem also stems from people who use the hospital for non-emergency ailments.
“Many people use the hospital like a doctor’s office,” Dromm said. “An overwhelming number of people come to the ER.”
The check for a cool million will cover 83 percent of the projected cost. The extra $200,000 will have to be raised by other means, but hospital staffers did not express concern at the news conference held Friday.
Construction crews were scheduled to break ground next summer and the center should be open by December 2011.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The renovation of the Elmhurst Hospital Center emergency room will include the demolition and new construction of approximately 3,550 square feet of space on the first floor of the center.
“It is with great pleasure that I present Elmhurst Hospital Center with the funding necessary to help make these improvements to their emergency department,” said Dromm. “Elmhurst Hospital has a long history of delivering exceptional and comprehensive medical services to our community and I am committed to continue making health care a top priority in our district.”
The Chest Pain Observation Unit being created within the emergency department will consist of six beds and will be used to observe patients with chest pain, to expedite the differential diagnosis process and divert patients, when medically appropriate, to community-based services instead of admitting them for inpatient services.
“The creation of the new Chest Pain Observation Unit within Elmhurst Hospital Center’s emergency department will allow us to increase efficiency within the ER and accommodate the growing needs of our community,” said Elmhurst Hospital Center Executive Director Chris Constantino. “Elmhurst Hospital Center has one of the busiest emergency rooms in New York City, so we are extremely grateful to Councilman Dromm for his support.”
“Our ER Chest Pain Unit will help us better identify patients with potential cardiac disease, as well as expedite their care,” said Dr. Stuart Kessler, director of Elmhurst Hospital Center’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “Our expanded Emergency Department facilities will lead to the enhancement of the cardiac care offered at EHC.”
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Community members and elected officials came out recently to show support for the victim of a savage beating in Jackson Heights.
City Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Julissa Ferreras, Assemblymember Michael Den Dekker, and City Comptroller John Liu hosted a fundraiser for Victor Mejia de los Santos, a pizza delivery person for Due Franky’s Pizzeria, who was viciously attacked by two men after being set up for a robbery on Friday, November 5.
“It is a personal thing for me,” Dromm said. “The man delivered pizza to me.”
For more on the robbery, click here.
Nearly 75 concerned neighbors attended or dropped by the Jewish Community Center of Jackson Heights on Sunday, November 14 to make donations. By the end of the event, close to $3,000 was raised for the Victor Mejia Fund.
“They were just people who were concerned and were interested in helping the family,” Dromm said.
Ferreras established a fund to help the Corona resident and his family. The Victor Mejia Fund has been established at TD Bank to pay for Victor’s medical expenses and lost income.
“My office established a fund to benefit Mr. Mejia because I was concerned about how his wife would manage to pay his steep medical bills,” Ferreras said. “We are a community that cares deeply about each other, and when bad things happen we come together in mutual aid and support.”
De los Santos, a 28-year-old Mexican immigrant, suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain after Jorge Paret, 28, and Anardo Battista, 23, ordered a pizza as a trick and then allegedly attacked him with a baseball bat as he walked on 75th Street in Jackson Heights, police said. They allegedly beat him unconscious before stealing his $1,000 motorized scooter. The suspects were charged with attempted murder and robbery.
“When I heard what happened to him, it was horrible,” Dromm said. “Here is a man who is working hard to get his American dream and they stole that from him.”
With his income, de los Santos provided financial support for his 22 year old wife Candelaria Rodriguez, who lives here, as well as his elderly mother and sister back in Mexico. He remains in critical condition at Elmhurst Hospital and already has undergone two brain surgeries.
“My deepest sympathy goes out to Mr. Mejia’s wife, and I am praying for his recovery,” Ferreras said.
Anyone wishing to contribute can stop by any TD Bank branch and make a check or cash deposit to the Victor Mejia Fund (account number: 4249506431).
Monday, November 22, 2010
The Chest Pain Observation Unit is the centerpiece of a 3,550-square-foot renovation to the hospital's first-floor Emergency Center scheduled to be finished next winter.
The facility is being paid for primarily through City Council funds secured by Councilman Daniel Dromm, who allocated $1 million in funding.
The remainder will be paid by the city-run hospital.
“Elmhurst Hospital has a long history of delivering exceptional and comprehensive medical services to our community,” said Dromm, who made a campaign promise last year to improve access to health care in his Central Queens district.
“Everyone gets the care that they deserve” there, he added.
Doctors at the 12-bed emergency room unit will diagnose and treat patients for chest pain before diverting them to the hospital or community-based health centers for further care.
It will also serve as the borough's only center for emergency angioplasties, an artery-clearing procedure used on patients with coronary heart disease that is less invasive than bypass surgery.
Officials said the unit would increase emergency room efficiency at the hospital.
The facility “will help us better identify patients with potential cardiac disease, as well as expedite their care,” said Dr. Stuart Kessler, director of the hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine.
The 545-bed hospital has one of the city's busiest emergency rooms, with 130,042 visits last year alone.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Un millón de dólares fueron donados para la ampliación del Departamento de Emergencias del Hospital Elmhurst en Queens, según dio a conocer ayer el concejal Daniel Dromm, quien con martillo en mano dio los primeros golpes para la nueva construcción, acompañado de médicos y trabajadores del centro hospitalario.
Los fondos gestionados por el concejal del distrito 25, permitirán desarrollar toda una renovación del observatorio de dolores de pecho que contará con 12 camas, disponibles las 24 horas del día y que beneficiará a más de 20 mil pacientes al año.
Para el doctor Alex Manini, este es un gran avance para el hospital y la comunidad: "los pacientes no tendrán que esperar tanto y mejoraremos nuestros servicios para quienes sufren de dolores de pecho".
Manini afirmó además que esto es un beneficio sobre todo para la comunidad inmigrante, recordando que el "50% de los pacientes del hospital son hispano hablantes".
En ese misma dirección el concejal Dromm expresó que la mayoría de los habitantes de su distrito son inmigrantes y que "no tienen acceso a cuidados de salud. Esto significará un mejoramiento del servicio para ellos y eso me tiene muy orgulloso. Es muy importante que se sepa que cuando alguien viene al Elmhurst Hospital, no importa si tiene o no documentos, la cosa más importante aquí es su salud", dijo el funcionario.
En tanto, la comunidad reaccionó con satisfacción por la noticia afirmando que es un paso más en el buen servicio que actualmente da el hospital. "Esto es muy importante, no tenemos otros hospitales cercanos y este se caracteriza por ser muy eficiente", dijo Ángela Arango, colombiana residente en Queens.
La construcción de las nuevas instalaciones durará entre 9 y 12 meses y tendrá un costo aproximado de 1.1 millón de dólares.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Queens has the highest retail vacancy rate in New York City — at 13.7 percent, it is nearly double the rate that Manhattan had in the second quarter of this year. But if there’s one spot where empty storefronts are a rare commodity, it is on Roosevelt Avenue, between roughly 72nd Street and 84th Street, a bustling commercial district on the edge of Jackson Heights.
Bustling, except for two commercial spaces at the Roosevelt Avenue public transportation hub on 74th Street, which just happens to house the fifth-busiest subway station in the city. The spaces have never been occupied.
Miguel E. Silva, a real estate broker at Ocean Y. Realty, which overlooks the empty stores, called the spaces “the filet mignon of Roosevelt Avenue” because of the hundreds of thousands of potential customers who walk past them every week. Daniel Dromm, the local city councilman, described the spaces as “the biggest impediment to economic development in the community.”
To the area’s residents and merchants, the spaces are sort of a mystery. “I think it’s storage,” speculated Marta Velásquez, a Mexican immigrant who was selling churros outside one of them the other day. Juan Castillo, a street bookseller who is from Ecuador, shrugged his shoulders and said, “They seem abandoned to me.”
The spaces are among 14 stores built when the 74th Street station was renovated — an $18 million project that was completed in 2005. Eleven are leased, all of them in the station’s mezzanine. (A 12th spot on the mezzanine is also vacant.) But getting businesses to open in the street-level spaces has proven to be particularly challenging — for potential tenants and for the landlord, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
In one of the stores — a space measuring roughly 4,000 square feet and spreading across two floors along Roosevelt Avenue, between 74th and 75th Streets — bags of insulation are piled up near a roll of orange mesh fence the transportation authority uses to block access to parts of a station that are undergoing work. Outside, the paint on the wood boards that encase it is peeling and the sidewalk is covered in bird droppings.
Of the signs advertising that the space is available, one faces an access road used by buses and is hardly visible to pedestrians. The other is not hard to spot, but the phone number for the authority’s real estate office is obscured by a sticker publicizing legal services: divorces for $299, bankruptcy proceedings for $399.
The transportation authority first requested proposals for the space on Roosevelt Avenue in 2006 and got back a single response, from a Korean businessman who wanted to open a bakery, agency officials said. The businessman signed a 10-year lease in 2007, paid a $40,000 deposit and then an additional $75,000 in 2008, when he told the agency that he needed more time because of problems with the architect he had hired for the project.
The second space — a triangular store of about 200 square feet — cannot accommodate a ventilation system because of its odd configuration, making it impossible to house a pizza parlor that someone had intended to open there, the officials said.
No lease has ever been signed for the smaller space, and the lease for the larger one was not voided until September 2008, almost two years after it was signed. Though the Korean businessman forfeited his deposits, he never paid any rent on the space.
“That’s the ultimate absurdity of this whole deal,” Mr. Dromm said.
Mr. Dromm is particularly troubled by the impression that the shuttered stores might leave on visitors. The subway station is a gateway to the neighborhood and “it’s not a good thing if the first thing you see is boarded-up commercial space,” he said.
A spokesman for the authority, Kevin B. Ortiz, said that for the most part, the agency had been “pretty successful” in filling the retail spaces at the station, but would hire an outside broker to market the street-level spaces.
For now, the agency is working to do some of the finishing work that tenants are often required to complete, as retail spaces rented by the transportation authority are delivered raw. It is all in a bid to make them more attractive.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority can use every dollar it can to dig itself out of its giant budget hole, which is why local officials are angered that some retail spaces in the 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue hub in Queens are still vacant.
Subway retail comes in many shapes and sizes, bringing the MTA almost $70 million a year. Yet even though the 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue hub in Jackson Heights, Queens underwent a $130 million renovation in 2005 that created 14 retail spaces, three spots in the station are still unrented.
"This is a shining example of MTA incompetence," said Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm.
Almost a year ago, with service cuts looming, elected officials complained, and now with the fare hike coming next month, frustration has only grown.
"They promised me that this store right here behind me would be open by September as a pizza parlor. As you can see, they've had a lot of success," said Dromm, gesturing at one empty space.
Street-level vacancies stand out where empty storefronts are rare. Underground, neighboring tenants would like to have more businesses nearby.
"Naturally, we'd like to see them full. This way, it attracts more business for us," said florist Greg Kyroglou of The Flower Concept.
The MTA rents the majority of what is available and generally gets good marks on retail, even in the slow economy.
"I'm sure that transit would like to rent as soon as humanly possible and get the income from it, so I'm hopeful that as things pick up, those stores will also be rented," said New York City Transit Riders Council Chairman Andrew Albert.
Another vacant two-story space in the transit hub was signed to a bakery in 2007, but it forfeited a $150,000 deposit this fall. It has been tough to rent the Broadway corner, where ventilation issues make it difficult for a food shop to move right in.
MTA officials hope brokers can speed things up. They say the situation at the Jackson Heights station is not the norm, and they expect a new approach to retail will add to the subway mix.
"Expectations are that it's not high-quality retail. And by high quality, I don't mean expensive, I just mean interesting, good design," said MTA Director of Real Estate Jeff Rosen. "The kind of place you'd want to stop and pick up something for convenience, but also for fun."
The new breed includes Grast, below 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, which sells T-shirts and toys with an edge to a wide variety of customers.
"A lot of them are collectors, and a lot of them just want a good deal on a T-shirt," said Grast staff member Natalio Tabaco.
The MTA is not looking for anything fancy in Jackson Heights, either -- just its slice of retail.