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Citi Field takes health concerns out to the ballgame

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The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and the New York Mets unveiled a partnership between the two at Citi Field last week called the Health Information Team, which gives health and wellness advice at the stadium.

Dr. Neeta Shah, vice president of women’s health services for North Shore-LIJ, said the Health Information Team office will focus on “providing people with the information they need to keep themselves and their family healthy.”

Saul Katz, Mets president and chairman of North Shore-LIJ’s board of trustees, said Citi Field is the first ballpark in professional sports with a permanent location providing health information.

He said doctors and other medical professionals inside the space will advise fans about heart health, sports safety, women’s health, stress reduction, stroke prevention and other health issues.

Katz said it was “unusual” to provide health information at a stadium, where there are plenty of unhealthy food options, “but we’re in unusually extraordinary times.”

Ironically, the space is next to the fried dough, beer and grilled sausage concessions on the Field Level of Citi Field in the right field corner of the stadium.

“We as a society need to do a better job in taking care of ourselves,” he said. “Health care is not a spectator sport.”

His wife, Iris Katz, said the Health Information Team will also “provide fans ... a glimpse of what’s to come,” referring to the planned Katz Women’s Hospital on the LIJ and North Shore campuses.

The hospital at LIJ is set to open in 2012, while the North Shore location is scheduled to open in 2011.

Borough President Helen Marshall, who attended the unveiling along with Mets ace Johan Santana and Manager Jerry Manuel, praised the Mets and LIJ for the partnership.

“What a unique idea to put a clinic like this in a baseball stadium,” she said. “A program like this illustrates the grassroots support of the Mets organizati­on.”

Players from the Ridgewood-Glendale-Middle Village-Maspeth Little League also helped unveil the center, which officially began operations on Opening Day April 5, and were treated to autographs by Santana and Manuel.

Alyssa Siess, 11, of Glendale, said the experience was exciting.

“I didn’t expect how close we were going to get to the players,” she said.

The Health Information Team office opens when fans enter Citi Field and is available until the middle of the seventh inning.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 5:54 pm, October 10, 2011
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