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As an Astoria resident, I have often walked along 30th Avenue, passing by Mt. Sinai Astoria Hospital. I have watched as senior citizens enter the outpatient area arriving for scheduled appointments. Often an ambulance will arrive, with flashing lights and sirens blaring.
When I observe these events, it dawns on me that Mt. Sinai is the only hospital serving Astoria and the 12th state Senate District.
This fact is alarming on so many levels. Astoria and Long Island City are reliant on the Mt. Sinai facility. After Mt. Sinai, the nearest hospital is 5 miles away, for some residents. Currently, Mt. Sinai only has capacity of a little more than 200 beds.
The residents of the 12th Senate District deserve better than that. The combined total population of Long Island City and Astoria is approximately 200,000. Clearly, Mt. Sinai cannot meet the immediate term health care needs for even 1 percent of the 12th District’s population. In a city as great as New York, this statistic is unacceptable.
The continued neglect of urgent health care in the vicinity of Astoria cannot continue. Our elected officials have not even scratched the surface on this issue. Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), the current senator of the district, sits on the Senate Health Committee but has not raised this issue as a priority during his tenure.
In fact, as senator he has never voted on any major health care matter that directly affects the district’s constituents. According to his record as a state Assemblyman, Gianaris voted on legislation (S5620) to reduce drug penalties for offenders with hypodermic syringes. That vote took place June 29, 2010.
It is shocking that Gianaris is ignoring an issue that has adverse affects on our community. Mt. Sinai has been doing its best to accommodate our residents — if only I could say the same for Gianaris.
It is a matter of fact that the majority of our population is aging. Baby boomers are reaching the age where accessible health care is a necessity. The stakes are too high. People’s lives are at risk. Another medical center is something Astoria and Long Island City residents need. The ambulances carrying those in need of care will continue. I cannot imagine what the coming years will bring if this issue is not addressed.
It is the responsibility of our elected leaders to insure our health and safety. Another hospital will provide health care access and relieve the heavy burden upon Mt. Sinai in Astoria. We need to be assured that those frequently dispatched ambulances do not arrive too little, too late for any of our neighbors.
Aurelio “Tony” Arcabascio
Republican State Senate Candidate
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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