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Photo by Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech

The sounds of camera shutters flickering filled the air on Thursday morning as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President Melinda Kats cut a large red ribbon stretched across the outside entrance to Elmhurst Hospital’s new urgent care facility.

Despite the recent terrorism scare in the city after 10 pipe bombs were delivered by an unknown sender to left-leaning public figures and CNN, de Blasio continues his Queens tour of City Hall in Your Borough.

“This is how we combat terrorism,” said de Blasio. “By living our lives.”

The mayor added that nobody should be paralyzed by the recent events, as fear is what terrorists thrive on. De Blasio stated that the NYPD investigation into who sent the bombs is ongoing.

He then pivoted to the reason he was in Elmhurst along with Borough President Melinda Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst Queens Israel Rocha, Jackson Heights resident Susan Latham, Head of the Express Clinic Dr. Philip Fairweather and Chair of the New York City Committee on Hospitals Carlina Rivera.

The group outlined the reasons why an urgent care facility adjacent to a hospital was desperately needed.

According to the mayor, 70 percent of emergency room visits are for injuries that could be easily handled in an urgent care facility.

Emergency room overcrowding is an issue in every hospital in the New York City. The average wait time for patients suffering from non-life-threatening injuries is five hours and many New Yorkers find themselves wasting time for simple ailments or refusing to go at all.

“I have a 7- and a 10-year-old and when one of them has an ear ache I’m just like, listen, wait unit the morning,” Katz said. She, too, fears sitting in a hard plastic chair in a crowded ER waiting room for hours.

The purpose of such facilities is to provide quick care to patients suffering from mild injuries or illness in order to decrease wait time in ERs.

The Express Care Clinic at Elmhurst Hospital is one of three new urgent care facilities in the city. The other two are at Lincoln Hospital and Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. All three hospitals are apart of the NYC Health+ Hospitals, the city’s public hospital system. Mayor de Blasio plans on eventually expanding express urgent care service to all 11 inpatient offices.

Elmhurst Hospital’s Express Care Clinic is open from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week. The clinic will have four nurses, two to three attending physicians and one or two physicians to help. Each exam room is equipped with a telephone linked to a translation line in order accommodate non-native English speakers.

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