In a borough that has witnessed so much explosive development in the past decade bringing new skylines from Long Island City to Flushing and Jamaica, the “topping-off” ceremony has become a mundane affair at construction sites.
That was not the case in Far Rockaway on Thursday, July 7, when Queens elected officials joined St. John’s Episcopal Hospital administrators and staff for a topping-off ceremony to commemorate the completion of the building’s structure for its new lifesaving ambulatory care pavilion at the only hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula.
“I actually never thought this day would be here. This is something we’ve been planning for quite a number of years,” SJEH CEO Gerard Walsh said. “This is pretty significant for us to be able to put a four-story, state-of-the-art ambulatory structure here for the community and the people of the Rockaways that we serve.”
Set to open in the spring of 2023, the new ambulatory care pavilion will offer an integrated delivery system of care which will include the co-location of primary care, specialty care and outpatient behavioral health services in one building.
The new pavilion will consist of a level three certified primary care medical home, co-located with outpatient behavioral health services on the first and second floor and ambulatory services such as medical oncology, infusion services and endoscopy services will be located on the third and fourth floors.
“The progress being made here is incredible and the proof is right behind me,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “We’re eliminating the health disparities Rockaway families face. We’re talking about better access to mental health services. We know that Rockaway has disproportionate rates around cancer, so more cancer treatment, and more, all part of the patient-centered model of care and it’s what Rockaway families deserve, it’s what they’ve always deserved but have never really received.”
The new facility will improve core population health and patient outcomes by focusing on preventive care, early diagnosis, care coordination, enhanced access to quality care, co-existing mental health and implementation of evidence-based protocols within the patient-centered medical home model that will improve the health of the population.
“I was born in this hospital right here,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “My mother carried me over to 407 Beach 20th St., so I’ve seen the good times and the bad times, and let me tell you, we are in good times. We want this hospital to grow and be a solid point in our community, our healthcare to expand throughout the peninsula.”
The expansion will provide much-needed services to the growing population on the peninsula and also provide jobs to residents of the area.
“St. John’s, being the largest employer on this peninsula, deserves to have state-of-the-art facilities so that our community can get the quality care that it deserves and at this moment, we have that opportunity,” Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson said.
The basement of the ambulatory care pavilion will house a PET/CT scanner and linear accelerator and the facility will help St. John’s develop a stronger integrated delivery system that provides strengthened outpatient primary care, specialty care and behavioral health services to the community.
“This new facility is coming as we really expand our population health program in the Rockaways,” Walsh said. “We need to take care of the entire community all across the peninsula and the only way we can do that is to expand ambulatory services, expand our population health program and treat people where they love. This building is a big milestone in us being able to complete our mission in taking care of our community.”