ALEXA MAE ASPERIN
The Floating Hospital (TFH) opened its newly-renovated health care clinic in Long Island City on October 26, “setting sail” and again broadening its horizons after 143 years of providing medical services.
“It’s amazing,” said Darla Pasteur, vice president of development and communications at TFH. “Now, we are available for the entire community and we’re thrilled to offer our services to the poor and the underserved.”
The 6,000-square-foot full-service primary medical, dental, and mental health care clinic connects TFH’s existing facility in LIC, which serves homeless families, and primarily women and children. The expansion of the 41-40 27th Street clinic was made possible by a $1.3 million federal grant announced in March 2009 targeted at providing services to LIC residents, especially those living in Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses.
According to Pasteur, when TFH began in 1866 and was “truly floating,” it was the first pediatric clinic in New York City, giving medical services on a ship that was docked by Wall Street. However, due to security reasons after the 9/11 attacks, there was no ability to keep the ship based at the docks. In 2004, the ship was sold and a decision was made by TFH’s board to move the headquarters to a land-based facility.
“I am delighted that this federal grant will help residents of Queensbridge and Ravenswood and other New Yorkers who may be without health insurance during this economic downturn,” said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney during her keynote address at the grand opening. Maloney also helped cut the ribbon at the opening of the initial portion of the clinic three years ago.
Because of stimulus funding, TFH alone has created 16 new jobs, retained another nine jobs, and contributed $500,000 in purchases and work done by local vendors. The awning, cabinetry, and some medical equipment were all purchased locally. Pasteur said that TFH focused “very much on making sure that our ability to open to the community involves giving business to them as well.”
This grant also allows the hospital to begin outreach to and treatment services for an extensive range of Queens residents, in addition to the traditional treatment and services provided to New York’s homeless population.
When asked why LIC was chosen as its permanent “dock,” Pasteur said, “it was our intention to move to the community since Long Island City is designated by the federal government as a medically underserved area.”
This was due to the shortage of primary care physicians in LIC, resulting in higher rates of people going to emergency rooms for medical care. In addition, many of the over 20,000 residents living in the Queensbridge and Ravenswood housing developments could not afford to pay for medical services.
“We are very consistent with our mission to serve medically underserved people that might not have the resources to pay and we do our best to help them,” said Pasteur.
In addition to its LIC headquarters, TFH has a network of seven clinics located within family shelters in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and provides free transportation to the LIC clinic from more than 54 locations across the city. The organization accepts any insurance, and for those who are uninsured, Pasteur says there is a sliding fee scale, making it affordable for anyone.
Since the expansion’s grand opening, there has been an increase in the number of people visiting TFH, and Pasteur said she and her colleagues expect to serve about 6,000 patients in the first full year of operation.
“The Floating Hospital has an incredible history of providing quality health care to those who need a helping hand,” said Maloney. She applauded TFH “for their dedication to the LIC community.”
Photo courtesy Congressmember Maloney’s office
From left, recently-elected City Councilmember for the 20th District James Van Bramer; Sonia Col, Chair of The Floating Hospital’s (TFH) Board; THF President Sean Granahan; Congressmember Carolyn Maloney; and David Oesterheld, widower of the Hospital’s former Chair Emeritus, Susan Bergholtz, were among those in attendance at the celebration of THF’s expansion in LIC.