Fourteen months after Elmhurst Hospital was overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients during the initial wave of the pandemic, elected officials joined Queens Borough President Donovan Richards as he pledged his commitment to fund two significant healthcare investments at the public hospital.
“Today, we are announcing a truly historic investment in both the heath of our borough and the healthcare heroes at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, who have shown indescribable bravery throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Richards said. “This major investment will fund a number of projects at Elmhurst, which will expand access to critical care for thousands of families. By allocating this funding, we are thanking our healthcare heroes not just with our words but also with our actions.”
The first of two multimillion dollar allocations made by Richards will support the creation of a new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), the first such investment at either of the two NYC Health + Hospitals campuses in Queens. Currently, Queens children in need of intensive care are transferred out of the NYC Health + Hospitals systems to systems such as Northwell Health facility in New Hyde Park. The $3 million PICU will offer life-saving intensive medical care to children on site.
A second $2.5 million allocation will support the conversion of two undersized operating rooms at Elmhurst Hospital into full-size, full-service operating rooms.
“Elmhurst Hospital has been a critical resource for our communities and beacon of hope for all, especially throughout the pandemic,” Councilman Francisco Moya said. “After working with the Queens Borough President and the City Council, and as someone who was born at Elmhurst Hospital, I am thrilled about the continued and increased investments in Elmhurst Hospital especially in support of our children. As we move forward, we need to ensure that Elmhurst Hospital is set up to serve our community and children for the long term and these investments in the new PICU and full-size, full-service operating rooms are the steps to do so.”
Last March, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz rallied against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget cuts at Elmhurst Hospital which she said “was overrun and undersupplied” as “essential and frontline workers were put in harm’s way every day’ during the COVID tsunami.”
“The pandemic has highlighted our community’s deficiencies in access to healthcare,” Cruz said after Richards’ announcement. “NYC Health + Hospitals is a lifeline for so many who cannot otherwise afford to go to the doctor, yet budget cuts continue to put a strain on our already-limited resources. I want to thank Borough President Richards for his leadership, and for prioritizing funding for our district’s most critical support system so that our neighbors can continue to keep themselves and their families healthy.”
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky thanked Richards for the crucial funding, especially for children. Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park is more than 15 miles from Far Rockaway, Long Island City, and other sections of southern and western Queens, requiring trips of more than 3 minutes by car or 90 minutes by public transportation.
“This funding will help Elmhurst create a new state-of-the-art Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, so children in need of intensive medical care can be treated locally,” Stavisky said. “It will also expand two operating rooms so Elmhurst’s team of extraordinary surgeons can treat more patients, more efficiently.These are significant improvements to an outstanding medical facility.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm, the chair of the Finance Committee, called the funding a “much-needed and important” victory for Elmhurst Hospital.
“This hospital provides services to one of the highest immigrant populations in New York City and was one of the leading hospitals in the impacts o COVID-19,” Dromm said. “This funding ensures preparedness, quality of services, materials, and resources for many years to come. Elmhurst Hospital took care of us. Now it is time for us to care for them.”