Today’s news:

Queens Hospital Center begins $55M expansion

The Ambulatory Care Pavilion will be built on a lot across the street from the $149 million main hospital building at the corner of the Grand Central Parkway and 164th Street and was slated to house the new Diabetes Center for Excellence as well as a range of specialties, including primary care, pediatrics, psychiatry, dentistry and more, said Lata Vasconcellos, a hospital spokeswoman.

"Queens Hospital Center's new Ambulatory Care Pavilion will fully complement our corporation's commitment to a philosophy of patient-centered care," said Dr. Benjamin Chu, president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corp., which manages the public hospital. "This ambulatory redesign effort is one more step in our ongoing objective of improving both access and quality of health care for out patients."

Hospital administration and community leaders, including Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), and City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), wielded the golden shovels to break ground on the site at a ceremony last Thursday. Work was slated to be completed by the end of 2005, according to a news release.

"Once up and running, this new structure will be the physical embodiment of our plan: a therapeutic environment where patients can count on being seen in a timely fashion and can depart feeling that their concerns have been competently and compassionately addressed," Chu said.

The building, which will be connected to the main hospital facility by two enclosed bridges, will house a number of clinics to help treat patients who do not need emergency care, Vasconcellos said. In addition to primary care, pediatrics, psychiatry, dentistry, ophthalmology and other specialties, the pavilion will feature a Diabetes Center of Excellence to tend to patients' needs in battling the condition that is prevalent throughout the black community in southeast Queens, she said.

"The impending arrival of a new Ambulatory Care Pavilion completes the modernization project at Queens Hospital Center and signals a further strengthening and viability of the Queens Health Network," said Pete Velez, senior vice president of the Queens Health Network, which includes Queens and Elmhurst hospital centers. "The new wing will allow us to consolidate several vital services in one central location adjacent to the new hospital."

The $55 million project to build the Ambulatory Care Pavilion was scheduled to finish the hospital's modernization plans. The main building was completed in December 2001, replacing the aging facility that had been used since the 1930s, the news release said. The main building also includes a Cancer Center of Excellence to encourage people to seek treatment and screenings.

"Our state-of-the-art facility can now boast one more focal point: the new Ambulatory Care Pavilion," said Antonio Martin, executive director of Queens Hospital Center. "Combined with our pioneering Queens Cancer Center, the Ambulatory Care Pavilion will offer comprehensive, compassionate care to a community in need. The end result will be a full menu of medical services housed in an environment that is cost-effective and more efficient for both staff and patients."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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