By Connor Adams Sheets
The West Wing is coming to Flushing, but residents should not expect Martin Sheen to reprise his role as President Jed Bartlett.
Instead, the wing is a new addition to New York Hospital Queens poised to bring it into the new decade with expanded services and new specialty care facilities.
The grand opening of the West Wing, so named because of its location to the west of the main hospital building at 56-45 Main St., was slated to occur this Wednesday with a gala reception and tours.
“There is great enthusiasm and excitement surrounding the opening of the new West Wing building,” Stephen Mills, president and CEO of the hospital, said in an e-mail. “Doctors, Queens community leaders and elected officials will be joining our employees at the ribbon-cutting celebration.”
The building, the key component of a $205 million modernization program to expand and renovate NYHQ, will go into use floor by floor over the next several weeks. The first two floors, dedicated to providing 80 new patient beds, will open first.
In coming months, NYHQ’s Heart and Vascular Center, dubbed the Heart Hospital of Queens, will open along with a gym for patients needing physical therapy, a new ambulatory surgery center with 10 new operating rooms on the ground floor, a patient care area for orthopedics and rehabilitation and more. The hospital also built a new three-level, 372-space parking garage.
“Very soon our community will experience this transformation firsthand,” Mills said. “We know that our current and future patients will feel at home in our new, attractive, state-of-the-art facility, which has some of the best-trained doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals in the world.”
The project is coming to fruition at a time of great uncertainty for hospitals in Queens and throughout the nation. The health-care reform bill, signed into law by President Barack Obama in March, is expected to reduce Medicare payments to the hospital by $146 million over the next decade, Mills said in April.
And the fall 2008 closing of Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, the winter 2009 shutdowns of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s hospitals in Queens and the May shuttering of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan have led to a major uptick in emergency department visits to NYHQ — further straining hospital resources.
In 1999, fewer than 60,000 patients visited the Emergency Department at NYHQ, but by 2007 that number had hit 90,000 and last year it climbed to 115,000, Mills said in April.
“This is a time of extraordinary challenge for every hospital in the country. It took a great deal of support and perseverance to bring this facility to completion in the midst of a serious recession and the unknowns of health-care reform,” Mills said Tuesday. “Right here in Queens we saw several institutions close while our expansion project was underway. This drove us to create an environment where our community can be confident they will have access to trusted expertise, advanced technology and a level of quality and service that will help them heal close to home.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.