Dishing with Dee

By Dee Richard

June was non-stop coverage of Queens events. Everyone was trying to schedule something in June. Traditionally, July and August are vacation months, so not much happens then. We attended so many parties that it will take a while to play catch-up. If your event has not received coverage, be patient. We will get to it as time and space allow.

As promised in last week's column, here is an update on the 16th state Senate race. The new candidate tossing his hat in the ring is Robert Schwartz, a Forest Hills resident and recently retired businessman. Schwartz was a CEO in the dairy industry. We will supply you with more details as we receive them. We wish all the candidates — Schwartz, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and Flushing businessman Peter Koo — lots of luck. This will be an interesting race to watch.

In a conversation with Fred Stewart, a New Parkway Hospital spokesman, he expressed concern for Forest Hills Hospital's (part of the North Shore/LIJ system) announcement of a cardiac catheterization facility in Forest Hills. He noted that these procedures usually result in tertiary care carried out within the North Shore/LIJ System in Nassau County. St. John's Queens Hospital, part of the new Caritas system, has an underused cardiac catheterization facility.

Fred referred me to the “Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century” report, also known as the “Berger Commission Report.” It specifically recommended against service duplication and setting up situations that created unnecessary competition between our struggling health care institutions — especially those whose failure could lead to large taxpayer expenses. This includes millions of dollars the state spends when unnecessary competition leads to hospital bail-outs for the same institutions.

Fred further pointed out that the Caritas system, which includes Mary Immaculate Hospital in southeast Queens, is already struggling. Losing this facility would create a void for a large and underserved community that needs more care.

Borough President Helen Marshall has repeatedly called for a new cancer center, which would not have been a duplication of area services and in line with the tenets of the commission or have served the community better.

Is this duplication another instance of follow the money instead of providing needed medical services, which would a be better way distribute facility resources to benefit Queens?

Congratulations to good friend Jimmy Van Bramer and his partner Dan Hendrick. They recently purchased a house in charming Sunnyside Gardens. The 55-acre development received landmark status last year. The status covered the housing stock and beautiful gardens. If you visit it, you will come away with the impression that you were in the English countryside rather than the city.

They are in their 30s and dedicated to restoring their home to closely reflect its 1920s origin. In case you missed it, Jimmy, Dan, their home and Sunnyside Gardens were featured in the Real Estate section of the Sunday New York Times.

Jimmy is the government and community affairs director for the Queens Borough Public Library; Dan the communications director for the New York League of Conservation Voters. Congratulations on a job well done.

The week's big party was a fund-raiser given by Carl Mattone and his wife Kelly at their lovely Douglaston home in support of City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), who is running against state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) for Padavan's seat. Gennaro will be term limited out of office in 2009.

He obviously wants to remain in politics; Padavan has faithfully served his community for 30-plus years. This will be an interesting race to watch, as the Republicans are the majority party in the state Senate by a small margin. Every seat is important.

That's it for this week.

I always like receiving voice mail at 718-767-6484, faxes at 718-746-0066 and e-mail at [email protected].

Till next week, Dee.

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