By Mark Hallum
Jamaica Hospital celebrated the completion of its new hospice facility with a ribbon-cutting dedicated as the Ferrara Family Center, a step up from the prior unit, which offered few amenities and an atmosphere administrators did not believe was suitable for patients or families.
Jamaica Hospital Chief Executive Officer Bruce Flanz and his wife Barbara took the lead in raising funds to turn the unit into what it is today, with large rooms offering furniture and amenities for families to make themselves at home. It includes ten suites, a comfort rooms and a family lounge looking north over Queens.
Borough President Melinda Katz recognized the career of the physician heading up operations in the unit, Dr. Alan Roth, and the contributions of the Joseph Ferrara, a member of the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center Board of Trustees.
“Queens is 130 languages and 120 countries,” Katz said. “There are particular needs of every single family that walks in through those doors,. Particular needs of faith, ethnic backgrounds, countries, tradition, food, clothing and all that comes with it. I know this unit will treat each one with extraordinary care.”
Ferrara has been on the board for over 20 years and his personal story encouraged him to make a difference to Jamaica Hospital’s hospice unit.
“I lost my wife to cancer,” Ferrara said. “I was very fortunate that I could take care of her at home in hospice care and when I saw the old hospice unit here, it was depressing. You knew it needed more, and knowing what I went through with my own wife, I thought it was time weserve this community. They get wonderful medical care, and they should also have the opportunity to have a good hospice unit.”
Ferrara sees the warmth and service of the unit as the main achievement of the project.
“It’s always been a passion of mine that people should have quality care and families should be supported at the end of life,” said Barbara Flanz, who volunteered all her time to fund-raising and other aspects of the project. “It’s a very difficult experience and we want to make it as supportive an experience as it can be. It’s a project that’s still going on — we still need a lot more things.”
According to Flanz, the hospice center is still in need of essential items, such as bed sheets, towels and kitchenware, and she has a registry open at Bed Bath & Beyond under the first name “Ferrara” and last name “Hospice” for those willing to contribute.
“The unit is very homelike — as homelike as an institutional facility can be, so all of those amenities would contribute to making it feel more like a homelike environment,” Bruce Flanz said.
The unit took only about five months to be fully renovated and cost $1.3 million, according to Bruce Flanz. All funds came from donations.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Stacy Pheffer-Amato (D-Howard Beach) also spoke at the ribbon-cutting.
“Keep thinking about the quality of this hospice center and this is not the standard,” Pheffer-Amato said. “The stakeholders fought for this community to have such a high level. This is proof they put their word behind what they are looking for. This is amazing.”
Addabbo said the effort is always there on his part to fund Jamaica Hospital, but it is never enough.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall