St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway promotes women’s health and new facility expansion

Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS

A Far Rockaway hospital brought awareness to women’s health in a festive way last Friday.

St. John’s Episcopal Hospital held a special “Cinco de Mammo” event to illustrate the importance of getting mammograms and health screenings in an area with some of the highest breast cancer levels in Queens.

Community members learned how to easily schedule appointments for these procedures and also about the abundance of other services St. John’s offers at several practices in the Rockaways. Attendees, including members of the community, patients and hospital staff, were treated to live music from a Mariachi band, refreshments and more.

“The purpose of the Cinco de Mammo event is to encourage the public to get health screenings, especially mammograms,” said Rosemary Bonilla, vice president of physician practice and ambulatory care. “Breast cancer is prevalent in the Rockaways, and residents need to be educated about getting screened so that cancer is caught and fought in its early stages.”

A community study identified the Rockaways, along with central Queens, as having the highest breast cancer rates in the borough. The study also showed that early breast cancer diagnosis rates are lower than the United States average.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide and claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year,” said Chief Medical Officer Donald Morrish, MD. “It is extremely important to get regular screenings because early detection increases your chance of finding breast cancer before it spreads.”

SJEP also offers several other women’s health services including well-woman visits and screenings, routine and high-risk obstetrics, reproductive endocrinology and infertility services, management of abnormal Pap smears, minimally invasive surgery, gynecological oncology and urogynecology.

Event attendees also learned about the hospital’s future expansion to build a women’s comprehensive health center and a 3,850-square-foot radiation oncology center.

The women’s center would expand upon the available services and will feature routine and sub-specialty gynecological and obstetrical services, maternal fetal medicine, urogynecologic services, cancer screening, breast surgery, behavioral health, nutrition service, bone density scanning and ultrasound, mammography and on-site lab services.

The new oncology center will feature state-of-the-art equipment including the Rockaways’ only linear accelerator — a machine that customizes high energy X-rays or electrons to conform to a tumor’s shape and destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding normal tissue.

“I want to thank St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for bringing such vital resources to our community,” said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato. “Breast cancer has touched so many of our lives and it is important to encourage the public to get screened regularly.”

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