By Naeisha Rose
The Brightpoint Health clinic in Jamaica was renamed the Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center late last month as it underwent renovations for an expansion.
Matilda Raffa Cuomo, the mother of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was the first lady of New York when her husband Mario Cuomo was in office from 1983 to 1994.
Cuomo is an advocate for women, children and families. She has led state, national and international initiatives that heightened volunteerism, mentoring and children’s rights, according to Brightpoint Health.
“My mother has dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate and uplifting New Yorkers in need, and I applaud the renaming of this facility to honor her long career of service,” the governor said. “The new Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center will provide much-needed services to the Queens community and support our efforts to make a stronger, healthier New York for all.”
During her tenure as first lady, she co-chaired the Governor’s Commission on Child Care and chaired the NY Citizen’s Task Force on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, according to Brightpoint Health.
The center, located at 105-04 Sutphin Blvd., “will embody the spirit of a woman who worked tirelessly to uplift our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Flushing).
In 1984, she established the nation’s first school-based, one-to-one mentoring program, which connected over 10,000 children to mentors, according to Brightpoint Health. The program is now called Mentoring-USA and has expanded internationally.
“Mrs. Cuomo is a very special person who has worked tirelessly to support the community through her years of work, advocacy and mentoring programs,” said state Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica). “I am very pleased that our community is getting increased health care services with the expanded Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center.”
The mentoring program is designed to help children in school graduate, advance in the workplace and become productive citizens.
“She is a global inspiration of what it means to embody service,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.
The non-profit provider of health-care services to New Yorkers integrates behavioral health and primary care to address the disproportionate rates of mental health and substance use problems and high rates of avoidable hospitalization in the [southeast Queens]area, according to Brightpoint Health.
Last year the clinic had 13,000 visits by 2,122 patients, 72 percent of whom were homeless or had an unstable housing arrangement, according to the center. One third of the visits were for mental health or substance use treatment. Primary medical care was provided to 52 percent of patients. It also provided medical monitoring, health groups, meals, and counseling for patients with AIDS or HIV.
The current facility is 9,400 square feet. Once renovations are completed, there will be an additional 3,000 square feet.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose