By Kelsey Durham
A Hollis Hills couple was honored at a gala this week with New York Hospital Queens’ highest award in recognition of the many years the two have spent working to better the institution for the people it serves.
Jill and Joseph Levy were selected as the winners of the 2014 Pacesetter Award for their work with the Page & Otto Marx Jr. Foundation, which has supported research in the fields of neurology and cancer for more than 10 years.
The annual award is given to those who have had a major impact on the hospital’s ability to help the community and advance its patient care.
The Levys, who have been married for 57 years and have lived in Hollis Hills for almost all of them, first got involved with Flushing’s NYHQ when they were invited by a doctor to join the advisory board about 10 years ago after struggling to find a neurological center that met their needs.
“Our experience as a family seeking the appropriate medical help in the past was not exactly wonderful anywhere we went,” Jill Levy said. “Our continuation of service and our involvement in the hospital came from our desire to not have other families go through what we went through.”
Joseph Levy said he and his wife first became involved with NYHQ’s off-campus neurological facility in Fresh Meadows and helped make changes to improve it for the community.
Through fund-raising events, helpful suggestions and community outreach, the couple was able to help the center establish a neuroscience institute, replace 24-hour EEG monitoring equipment and refurbish both the neuroscience diagnostic unit and one of the hospital’s community ambulatory centers for neuroscience.
“They’ve expanded service to a greater number of people in the community,” Jill Levy said. “The community is diverse and the hospital now represents that diversity.”
Despite all the work they have put in on behalf of the hospital in the past decade, the Levys said they were surprised to hear that they had been chosen for the award. The couple was honored at a gala in Manhattan Monday evening where they were presented with the Pacesetter award and officially thanked and recognized for the impact they have had on the hospital.
Jill Levy said that although the work they do for NYHQ keeps them busy, she and her husband have never thought about walking away from it.
“What gives us the energy to go on is that the hospital is growing,” she said. “We’re community members so we feel that our involvement is very important. We get satisfaction from seeing things develop and hearing about the wonderful things that are happening.”
The Levys said not much has changed about the work they do over the past 10 years, but they have become closer with the hospital’s administration and are now able to work more closely with the doctors in order to better address the needs of patients.
Joseph Levy said he and his wife will continue to dedicate their time and energy to the hospital for as long as possible because it has earned a special place in their hearts.
“We’ve had the privilege of seeing a small hospital on the corner of a street grow into a major community entity,” he said.
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at [email protected].