Doctors of the World are coming local – to the Rockaways, intending to boost the area’s health care.
The international network of doctors has 14 locations worldwide which combined work in 79 countries and recently signed a lease to open a free primary health care clinic at 2-30 Beach 102nd Street, making the Rockaways the only U.S. site.
“The Rockaways have a severe shortage of health care services available to them,” said Noah Barth, program coordinator. “[It also has] a long history of being excluded or not given enough attention from city and state resources.”
At the clinic, Doctors of the World will provide free service to the public, including the uninsured, thanks to a reliable donation foundation.
“Health care is a fundamental right,” Barth said. “We see our work as filling a gap.”
St. John’s Episcopal has been the lone hospital left on the peninsula since the closing of Peninsula Hospital in April 2012. The community at large has voiced the need for more health care facilities.
At St. John’s, the emergency room at times has gotten overrun with patients, but “on the whole we have been doing okay,” said hospital officials. Post-Sandy complications and the summer’s heat wave have brought in patients with lung issues, including asthma and COPD.
In the Rockaways, the high concentration of seniors and public housing facilities creates a high need for services that the community is not getting, including storm-related treatment, Barth said.
“There is a chronic shortage of a lot of things,” he said.
Additionally, Doctors of the World has done community outreach to determine just how to cater to their future patients.
“We want to try and really understand from the community level what the situation is, what the needs are and what the community wants, as opposed to telling them what they want,” Barth said.
There is no definitive timetable as to when the clinic will open, but is projected to open within a couple of months.