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While half a dozen Queens hospitals have closed in the last decade, Mount Sinai Queens was preparing for expansion. Administrators and staff, community leaders and elected officials both past and present gathered Monday for a groundbreaking ceremony celebrating a $125 millon building project.
The new five-story building will feature new operating suites, facilities for primary care and an expanded emergency room with an off-street ambulance bay. The new construction was 14 years in the making, according to Mount Sinai Health System President and CEO Dr. Kenneth Davis.
“This is our first step into the future, it fills a real need here in western Queens and it’s moving health care upstream,” Davis said. “While other hospitals are closing across the city,we are building the hospital of tomorrow.”
Caryn Schwab, the hosptal’s executive director, served as the master of ceremony saying “Mount Sinai has been a safety net for this community. The next closest hospital is more than three miles away.”
Schwab added: “It means patients don’t have to cross the bridge to get great care.”
State Assemblywoman Arevella Simotas (D-Astoria) could testify to that point. Several years ago her father suffered a heart attack and was told that he had to recover in Manhattan.
“It caused an enormous strain on my family,” recalled Simotas, “so the notion that we will have this state-of-the-art facility right here in Astoria is indicitive of the transformation of our community.” State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) declared, “This is health reform as it was meant to be.”
When construction is completed in 2016, the 125,000-square=foot facility will offer one-stop shopping, according to Shwab. “That means families can go to the one location and in one visit get all the care they need,” she said. The hospital’s president, David Rich, called it “an improved business model that will be putting patients first.”
The community benefits economically as well.
Mount Sinai said the project will generate 460 construction-related jobs, 340other related jobs and 160 staff jobs when the hospital is completed. In addition the hospital claims $166 million will be added to the local economy.
The project will go up directly behind the original building at Crescent Street and 30th Avenue, site of the original Astoria General Hospital. It was taken over by Mount Sinai 14 years ago and is now part of the city’s largest hospital system.
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said “my family has been in Astoria and coming to this hospital for 80 years.” His father, Peter Vallone, Sr., a Council member for 27 years, agreed.
“Yeah, and this place frankly was a dump, but the doctors and nurses were great!” the elder Vallone said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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