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LIC hospital funds to help Ravenswood residents

Long Island City’s Floating Hospital has received a federal grant that will enable the 140−year−old institution to expand it services to residents of western Queens’ public housing developments as well as create new jobs in the community, the center’s president said.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D−Astoria) announced Monday that President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package would provide a total of $7.1 million in health care funds to the city, including $1.3 million to the Floating Hospital, at 41−40 27th St. in Long Island City.

The Floating Hospital plans to use the funds to extend its service to residents of Long Island City’s Queensbridge Houses and Astoria’s Ravenswood Houses, including two new vans that will visit patients who cannot make it to the hospital. The center, which primarily serves homeless residents, will now be able to provide primary medical, dental and mental health services to low−income residents.

“We will now have patients who are considered the working poor,” hospital spokeswoman Darla Pasteur said. “They have housing, but may be under−insured or uninsured. Many of them may have recently lost their jobs.”

The hospital will receive $650,000 each year for the next two years, which allows for the creation of 20 to 30 new jobs at the center, Floating Hospital President Sean Granahan said.

“This is important not only for providing health care to those who need it, but it will also create more than 300 health care jobs across the state,” Maloney said.

When it was founded in 1866, the Floating Hospital took poor city children on summer fresh air excursions along the Hudson River to escape their squalid living conditions. Eventually, the center expanded its original mission by providing health care services to city homeless families through a network of clinics housed in city homeless shelters.

The center moved to Long Island City three years ago after losing its dock space following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Granahan said the hospital receives an estimated 64,000 visits per year.

City Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) said the center’s expanded services will aid Queens residents amid a borough health care crisis. St. John’s and Mary Immaculate hospitals shuttered their doors permanently earlier this month.

“There is a desperate need for health care in Queens,” he said. “This will make sure that young children get the care they need to become productive adults.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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