It was a momentous day for staff members at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center as Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced on Friday, Aug. 27, a $589,000 investment to replace five aging ultrasound machines with new, state-of-the-art mobile equipment that can be used in any setting to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
Richards was joined by the President and CEO of Jamaica Hospital Bruce Flanz, Assemblyman David Weprin, hospital leadership and community leaders for the announcement outside of the hospital’s Emergency Walk-In entrance at 8900 Van Wyck Expwy. in Richmond Hill.
As Queens was the “epicenter of the epicenter” of the COVID-19 pandemic 17 months ago, Richards said they’re looking forward to a “more resilient normal for Queens.”
“Normal was never good enough. We need to move into a space where there’s a new normal where healthcare is a human right for everybody, while institutions across Queens have the latest and greatest technology,” Richards said. “This is one of my first investments to Jamaica Hospital.”
The project, which is fully funded by Richards, will allow the hospital’s radiology department to perform advanced imaging, such as elastography, and offer a non-invasive ways to diagnose and assess the severity of diseases such as liver fibrosis, instead of conducting more invasive biopsies and other procedures.
Including the $598,000 allocation to Jamaica Hospital, Richards has provided more than $11.9 million in funding to healthcare facilities across the borough since taking office amidst the ongoing pandemic — the greatest public health crisis the borough has faced in more than a century.
Richards acknowledged the hospital’s staff for their sacrifice and resiliency to help save lives during the height of the pandemic in March 2020.
“The staff at Jamaica Hospital were working double and triple shifts fighting a virus we knew nothing about — in some cases, without the PPE they needed to keep them safe,” Richards said. “They handled this unprecedented crisis with true grace and compassion. They were even there to comfort our relatives, friends and neighbors as they passed away.”
While Richards commended the doctors and nurses for their outstanding work, Flanz thanked the borough president for his generous allocation and support for the hospital that has been serving the community for 46 years.
“We strive to deliver quality and compassionate services to meet the unique challenges of every patient,” Flanz said. “Receiving the support of the borough president is not only helping us to expand our effort in radiology, but it also helps the hospital to continue our mission in caring for our community in offering world-class healthcare services close to home.”
Flanz also congratulated the hospital for being recognized as one of America’s Top 250 Hospitals and its Radiology Department’s high achievement by the American College of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging Center of Excellence.
Brian Pinnock, a clinical laboratory technology specialist at the hospital and a member of the SEIU 1199 healthcare union, said the hospital is very well deserving of the funding that will provide state-of-the-art ultrasound.
“I worked every day during the COVID outbreak and we saw what happened. In the beginning, it was confusing — we experienced seeing different results that were abnormal and we were wondering what was going on,” Pinnock said.
As an 1199 delegate, Pinnock said he made sure everyone in the lab was protected, even though some of their members contracted the virus.
“In the beginning, we were told it wasn’t that contagious and we didn’t have enough PPE,” Pinnock said. “We at 1199 need the support of our representatives who continue to fight alongside us every day for top-quality healthcare that we deserve.”
Weprin, who represents Richmond Hill, also thanked the hospital for the work they’ve done, even before the virus hit the borough.
“Jamaica Hospital is right here on the front line involved in so many emergencies. They do such outstanding work. I am proud to be the assemblyman for Jamaica Hospital, and it’s great that Borough President Richards is recognizing the work they do,” Weprin said. “I know they will put the allocation to good use immediately.”
Reverend Princess Thorbs McGee of Community Board 12 also thanked Richards and the hospital for the work they’ve done.
“You cannot build bricks without your straw, and the straw is what came from our borough president,” Thorns McGee said. “You need this money and the equipment to be able to do the work that needs to be done. Maybe there will be an expansion — maybe there will be a Jamaica Hospital No. 2.”