By Connor Adams Sheets
Flushing’s luminaries gathered en masse at New York Hospital Queens last week to join the facility’s administrators and employees in celebrating the ribbon-cutting of its newly constructed, $210 million “West Wing” addition.
The new eight-floor building was the backdrop and subject for a series of speakers at the event, who described the services it will offer and the challenges the hospital’s leadership had to overcome in order to bring the project to fruition.
The June 16 event marked the culmination of construction that Dr. George Heinrich, chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, said was first conceived about five years ago, when the hospital began to notice a large increase in the number of emergency room visits it was handling.
In 1999, the hospital saw fewer than 60,000 emergency room visits, while this year Heinrich said the hospital expects about 115,000. So the new building broke ground in February 2007.
“We realized we needed to expand in order to continue to properly serve our community,” he said. “There’s no reason to travel to Manhattan or out east. We’ve got world-class health care right here in your community.”
Borough President Helen Marshall gave a rousing speech extolling NYHQ’s virtues and the positive impact the addition will have on health care in Queens. She said her husband’s life was saved in the hospital and that it continues as an enduring institution in the face of major challenges to health care.
“The city and state have closed four hospitals in this borough and this hospital has been terrific,” she said. “I do consider this a momentous occasion because not only is this a great hospital, [but] it’s getting better and it’s state of the art, which is what we need …. Tonight we’ve been given great hope that something better is to come.”
Dr. Paul Lee, chief of NYHQ’s thoracic surgery division, said during the post-ceremony reception that the addition will be a boon for the hospital and its ability to provide high-quality care.
“It’s a great opportunity. I think it’s a credit to the leadership of this hospital in these tough recession times to make this happen,” he said. “It opens up more beds for the hospital and we’ll also have newer technology as far as cardiovascular and interventional procedures.”
The seven-floor, 190,000-square-foot facility adds 80 hospital beds, a new ambulatory surgery center with 10 new operating rooms, a unique hybrid operating suite for endovascular, interventional radiology and vascular procedures and more.
“I think that the challenge for those of us that want to see great health care of the highest quality has never been higher,” Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, said. “This is a wonderful facility, a wonderful family and we should all be tremendously grateful that we have them.”
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.