Quantcast

By Sarina Trangle

Two years after Hurricane Sandy tore ashore, Rockaway residents’ access to health care remains strained, but the storm has left more people with stress, anxiety and depression, a study said.

Doctors of the World, an international medical humanitarian organization that established a free clinic in the Rockaways after Sandy, released the results of a four-month-long analysis last month. It relied on surveys taken by about 400 Rockaway residents.

The report found that the peninsula’s geographic isolation and lack of public transit contributed to Rockaway’s federal designation as a medically underserved area and a health professional shortage area prior to the storm. But the closure of several private practices, the stress of rebuilding homes and other lingering concerns exacerbated the situation.

“We expected to find low-income communities with poor health outcomes and poor access to healthcare services, which we did. But we also found that the deficit in affordable services is impacting everyone,” said Noah Barth, program manager with Doctors of the World’s Rockaway clinic.

The study found 65 percent of survey respondents noted their health has not changed since the storm, and 23 percent described it as having declined.

About 66 percent of those surveyed reported they felt stressed, depressed or anxious because of Sandy, particularly those in ZIP code 11694, which includes Rockaway Park and Belle Harbor, where many homes were ravaged. The study noted that 80 percent of residents in that ZIP code reported storm damage to their homes, compared to rates under 50 percent in other areas.

As the two-year anniversary of Sandy approached, the Mental Health Association of New York City announced it would offer a free, cognitive behavioral therapy program online to those still coping with mental health issues stemming from the storm.

About 12.3 percent of those surveyed said they needed medical care at some point during the past year, but did not receive it. Of these, 23.4 percent earned $16,000 or less annually and another 21.3 percent earned between $23,000 and $56,000, which suggests a structural deficiency in existing care for those with insurance, the study said.

Several respondents commented on the need for more emergency facilities. And many in ZIP code 11691, which includes Far Rockaway, complained about the distance to quality general care facilities, the study said.

Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway closed in April 2012, shortly after filing for bankruptcy. This left Rockaway’s 115,000 residents with one 257-bed hospital, St. John’s Episcopa in Far Rockaway.

Hurricane Sandy whipped through the peninsula Oct. 29, 2012, which shuttered several private clinics and doctors’ offices. although the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, which offers care at a sliding scale, remained open.

Doctors of the World established its free clinic in October 2013 and has since provided about 700 consultations, Barth said.

“We’re working on providing care and filling out access gaps for the most vulnerable populations,” Barth said. “But that’s not going to provide the comprehensive care for the entire community… and that’s why we did this study to quantify the needs for policy makers.”

Barth urged anyone interested in volunteering or supporting the clinic to email it, at rocka‌waysc‌linic‌@doct‌orsof‌thewo‌rld.org.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at stran‌gle@c‌ngloc‌al.com.

Related Stories
No Image
Show Rockaways some love
Leaders vow to save and expand St. John’s Hospital at community forum
Leaders vow to save and expand St. John’s Hospital at community forum


Skip to toolbar