As the city prepares for a post-COVID pandemic reopening, community advocate and City Council candidate Al-Hassan Kanu unveiled his blueprint to help prepare southeast Queens for the next health crisis.
Kanu outlined three proposals that ensure community input, use the lessons learned from dealing with the coronavirus crisis, and his experience working for the past two Council members who represented the 27th Council District, to ensure the policies are effectively advanced.
“Even before COVID-19 upended our city, southeast Queens already lacked the infrastructure for residents to receive the medical attention and care we need,” Kanu said. “My plan will help bring the resources back to the community by diverting funds in city departments where they belong, and empowering our community boards to ensure city agencies remove the red tape involved when it comes to our health. Not only will this plan help families live a healthier life now, but if we ever have to go through another pandemic, our community hospitals will have the additional capacity they need in an emergency.”
Kanu’s first proposal would restore roughly $399 million in FDNY/EMS funding to the city’s Health and Hospital Corporation system. The EMS budget was in the HHS budget until then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani moved it in 1996.
Kanu says it simply doesn’t make sense for ambulances to be in the FDNY’s budget when a vast majority of this program is coordinated with the hospitals as they rush to get people to the care they need. When many hospital closures took place over the last decade across the borough, putting funding back where it belongs will give the hospitals the capacity they need to stop future closures and better coordinate their services.
Kanu’s second proposal would create a task force out of his office to prioritize community health needs and effectively advocate for them. It would include labor leaders, community boards, health care professionals, elected officials and community advocates, so those in Albany, City Hall and government agencies know that District 27 is speaking with one voice to advocate for its needs.
Kanu’s third proposal would fund community boards 12 and 13 to develop a plan that would create a stronger health system in southeast Queens, which would then have to be implemented through changes by the city agencies using the 197A process. This ensures the policies that are coming out of City Hall are ones that southeast Queens truly needs and helps ensure positive outcomes for residents, according to Kanu.
“We cannot just think about now, this plan sets up the groundwork we will need going forward to maintain and grow our quality of life,” Kanu said. “It’s imperative that the next Council member representing this district not just know how the city works, but also how to work in it, and because of my experience, I’m confident this plan will work.”
District 27 encompasses Cambria Heights, Hollis, Jamaica, St. Albans, Queens Village and Springfield Gardens.