Family Health Center Becomes A Reality

Crowds gathered at 6200 Rev. Joseph H. May Drive in Rockaway this past Friday as civic leaders, city planners and elected officials participated in the groundbreaking of the New Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center.
Claire Shulman, who served as Borough President of Queens for 16 years prior to 2002 when she left office, was one of the driving forces behind securing the property at Beach 69th Street and Beach Channel Drive and keeping it "on hold" by the city for the development of a health center. Shulman’s office was responsible for nearly $2,000,000 in the the development of the project.
 Additional funds in excess of $1,000,000 were poured into the project from City Councilmembers Juanita Watkins and her successor James Sanders, Jr., who continue as major supporters of the development of the new facility. State Assemblywoman Michele Titus, Councilman Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., the Port Authority and the Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC), have also been instrumental in providing to secure funding needed to see the program through to its completion.
When Dr. Peter Nelson, executive director of the center, took the podium at the luncheon that followed the groundbreaking, he stated simply, "How Sweet It Is!"
Hailed by one and all as the glue that held the entire project together, Dr. Nelson was quick to praise each and every individual involved from the start of the project. He explained that the new health center will be in excess of 22,000 square feet, as compared to the 14,000 square feet of the existing facility, and that the services provided will triple their capacity to serve the community.
 A section of the health center will bear the name of Mary Meeks, in honor of Congressman Gregory Meeks’ mother. The tribute is meant to recognize the effort by Gregory Meeks to see the project through to completion.
Additionally, Dr. Nelson spoke of a waiting room that would be named for former City Councilwoman Leader Juanita Watkins. Patient rooms will also be named in honor of Queens borough presidents.
Dr. Nelson continued to praise local officials including City Councilmen James Sanders, Jr. and Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., and pointed out that State Assemblywoman Michele Titus had only been in office for 10 hours when she pledged $200,000 to the health center.
Dr. Nelson also credited members of his board of directors and staff for their hard work and diligence.
 "What drives all of these people is love," said Dr. Nelson. "Love of people. . .love of the mission, and that is good will. Looking at them allows me to do my job, and makes it so easy to do."
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also attended the celebration. "There is still much to be done to make sure that all of the monies stay in place," she said and pledged her commitment to that goal. "I am very happy that this center is becoming a reality and the Rockaways are moving."
 Congressman Gregory Meeks was all smiles as he took the podium, looked out on his audience and said, "Addabbo, You’ve come a long way, baby." Meeks reminded everyone that he sat on the board of the health center back in the day when it was named for the "late, great Congressman, Joe Addabbo."
When completed, the new Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center will be a three story facility, just under 23,000 square feet, with eight departments, and 60 examination rooms and doctors offices, responsible for 80,000 office visits per year, including 63,000 health care visits, 17,000 WIC visits, and 5,000 visits for social services. It will be prepared to serve a client population of approximately 60,000 people, representing one out of every three residents of the surrounding communities.
According to the designers of the project, the health center will serve as a new community focal point.
The center promises to revitalize the Rockaway peninsula, especially Arverne. The center is just one part of a large scale revitalization and renaissance that has ensued throughout the Rockaways in recent years. Much anticipation is held by elected officials and residents that the center will serve as an anchor site for future development.

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