Officials of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center — and 15 students in the complex’s Children’s Day Treatment program — are hoping they won’t be left out on the streets the second the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day.
The health center and its treatment program have been housed by Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway for over 10 years.
But close to a month ago, Peninsula’s new management, Revival Home Health Care, said they needed the space back — and by the end of the year — in order to expand the hospital’s emergency room, according to officials.
Now — after first receiving notice to vacate the premises in only three months — Dr. Peter Nelson, the CEO of Addabbo Center, said the program has hope in its frantic search for a new home and more time.
“The message got through to him,” Nelson said of Todd Miller, the hospital’s new CEO, whom he had recently met with regarding the time frame of the removal process. “I think at this point, we’ve got his attention. He wanted to be reasonable, and he wanted to see that we were working hard to find a new place. I think we’ll be able to have more time to relocate than by December 31.”
Miller told The Courier that he has in fact granted the program an extension, but did not specify how long.
He said program officials, Peninsula personnel and representatives from the Department of Mental Health will meet next week on December 7 to discuss plans moving forward, including how much time will be actually needed.
“We’re not going to put them out on the street,” he said. “We’ve always been open to a solution that works for everyone. There was just a process that we needed to go through to make sure [program officials] were focused on the fact that they ultimately needed to find a new space.”
He said he was working closely with officials at the Department of Mental Health, as well as elected officials, including State Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr., to move forward, but no plans have been set in stone.
“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Miller is going to make a decision not to have the day treatment program at the hospital,” said Addabbo, who had also met with Miller to discuss the status of the center. “He feels that he wants to expand services of Peninsula Hospital, and I commend him for that and I commend him for his vision for the hospital, but it’s important to continue the program for the children and to find an alternative space for them.”
Addabbo said the one agreement made during his most recent meeting with Miller was that Miller would be “reasonable in providing the program enough time to find an appropriate, accessible space.”
“I appreciate that courtesy. It is an important program for these children, and the families depend on it,” Addabbo said.
The Children’s Day Treatment program provides clinical and academic services for children aged eight to 10, as well as therapeutic services — including individual and group therapy, psychiatry and parental guidance and counseling. The majority of the students are from the Rockaway community, according to officials, and suffer from profound behavioral and emotional difficulties.
“We’re just trying to make a plan about how we would move, when we would move and get them to work with us around that plan rather than work to try to evict us,” said Ronald Lamb, the program’s director. “I hope that it will lead to a mutually beneficial solution.”