The COVID-19 pandemic continued to dominate health coverage in 2021 especially as the surge of the omicron variant led to rising angst for residents across Queens.
There was, however, plenty of good news as health care providers opened new medical facilities across the borough that will reduce pressure on hospitals during future public health crises in the future.
Few openings matched the pageantry that marked the ribbon-cutting as MetroPlus Health opened its new flagship location at 136-13 Roosevelt Ave. in Flushing during the summer.
The affair was designed to allow a community particularly hard-hit since the onset of the pandemic a much-needed respite while reminding those in need they would have access to affordable and even free healthcare going forward.
The impact of the pandemic in southeast Queens was profound, with a disproportionate death rate among residents exposed the lack of health care options available to the community.
In February, as positivity rates remained high more than a year after COVID spread through the borough, The Community Healthcare Network announced plans to open a new 15,000-square-foot Tree of Life health clinic at 89-46 164th St. in the heart of Jamaica.
“If there is one thing this pandemic has shown us, it is that lack of health care infrastructure in communities of color has truly devastating effects in times of crisis,” Councilman I.Daneek Miller said.
Oak Street Health, a network of value-based primary care centers for adults on Medicare, opened its second facility in Cambria Heights at 222-19 Linden Blvd.
Patients can find an unmatched healthcare experience that includes quality time with their provider in-person or via TeleHealth, a 24/7 patient support line, individualized preventative care plans, and access to transportation to and from the center for eligible patients.
Additional services, such as behavioral healthcare, social health support and Medicare educational classes, are also offered to help older adults meet their unique needs in one convenient location.
The only hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula is set to further increase access to healthcare through grant funding. St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway is the recipient of two major grants — the G.A. Ackermann Fund Grant Award and the Expanded Access to Care Grant — which will help the facility improve services to a historically underserved population that was severely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding from the G.A. Ackermann Fund Grant will go toward the staffing and operations of St. John’s new Mobile Health Unit, which is an RV that travels throughout the communities served by St. John’s to provide health screenings and vaccinations to the public.
The second grant, the Expanded Access to Care Grant, is aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations and primary care services in Far Rockaway.
The grants come months after the hospital, elected officials and community members rallied against proposed drastic cuts to the hospital’s capacity and services. The proposal was later put on hold by the state.