In its ongoing efforts to combat cancer in Far Rockaway, which has a higher incidence rate when compared to surrounding neighborhoods, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital opened the new Margaret O. Carpenter Women’s Health Center earlier this month.
The hospital hosts a Cinco de Mammo celebration each year, but this year’s event over the weekend had increased urgency as the death rates for cancer in the Rockaways are higher than the overall cancer death rate in New York City.
“We are celebrating Cinco de Mammo, trying to keep our community healthy and our women healthy by making sure that they’re screened for any kind of breast cancer,” SJEH VP of Ambulatory Care Rosemary Bonilla said. “To me, that means that our women are not getting screened. They’re not coming for their screenings. So we have to close that gap. That’s why we have the women’s center: to close that gap.”
She added that the new center opened on May 6.
“It’s a comprehensive health center treating women holistically,” Bonilla said. “We have a lot of OBGYN services, OBGYN specialty services. We have imaging. We have mammography, ultrasound and bone density to keep our women healthy.”
Lifelong Rockaway resident Joanne Miller, 68, stopped by to make an appointment for a bone density scan and ended up taking a tour of the center. She said afterward that it would be an important resource for the neighborhood.
“I think Rockaway needs something like that,” Miller said. “We didn’t have this; you just had scattered doctors here and there. Most of us went out of town and to have something like this in the community with everything included in one building is phenomenal.”
She said she had traveled off the peninsula to Howard Beach for her yearly mammography but will come to the center from now on because it’s closer and features 3-D mammography as opposed to regular mammography at the Howard Beach facility.
“3-D will show everything,” Miller explained. “A lot of women have cystic breasts, very dense breasts, so it’s difficult to see the little tumor or cancer growing inside you.”
From prenatal care to senior health, the Women’s Health Center at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital delivers quality healthcare to meet the needs of women at every stage of life by providing the latest state-of-the-art services and procedures, Bonilla explained.
“Early prevention is the best way to prevent breast cancer from escalating because it’s a very aggressive cancer, so the earlier you come and are diagnosed, the better chances you have of surviving,” Bonilla said. “We want everyone healthy. We want them treated. We want to prevent breast cancer, so that’s what this event is about.”
The center is located at 105-38 Rockaway Beach Blvd. in Rockaway Park. To make an appointment, call St. John’s Episcopal Hospital at 718-869-7500.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.