U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) said legislation that includes a collective $640,000 in funding for New York Hospital Queens and the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital system was approved by a House committee Friday and is expected to pass the full House in the fall.
Of the $640,000, $540,000 is going to North Shore-LIJ so the health system can pay for three social workers and three veterans peer counselors for a program run through the district attorney’s offices in Queens, Nassau and Brooklyn.
The program provides treatment and counseling for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who are arrested due to substance abuse and/or mental health problems.
“This program is a critical initiative to steer nonviolent veteran offenders away from jail and instead offer them the support services and mental health treatment they need,” Ackerman said. “We can never thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they’ve made to our nation, and now we must do all we can to help troubled veterans obtain the services they require.”
Terry Lynam, spokesman for North Shore-LIJ, said the Queens district attorney’s office will use the funding to staff one social worker and one veterans peer counselor under the program, which was launched in July 2009.
“This funding will enable us to help support the DA offices in bolstering this program,” Lynam said.
Ackerman said the legislation also steers $100,000 in funding to NYHQ in Flushing so it can expand communications between patients’ families and doctors and hospital staff.
NYHQ plans to use the money to upgrade its peri-operative tracking system, which allows families of surgery patients to follow the status of the family member through updates on monitors located in the hospital.
Each patient slated for surgery is assigned an ID number that is given to family members, which they can use to view information, including the location of the patient.
Updates on patient status are provided by nurses in the pre-operative, intra-operative and post-anesthesia care units, Ackerman said.
A patient’s consent is required for them to be tracked.
NYHQ plans to spend the $100,000 to buy more monitors and other equipment for the cafeteria and other areas throughout the hospital, the congressman said.
Currently, the monitors are only in NYHQ’s main lobby and a surgical waiting area.
“Staying informed about the status of loved ones undergoing surgical procedures is crucial,” Ackerman said, “and these funds would help ensure that family members remain updated during these critical and often difficult times.”
“In these unforgiving economic times, the Queens health care community is fortunate to have an advocate like U.S. Rep. Ackerman, who understands and responds to our community’s needs and challenges,” said Stephen Mills, president and chief executive officer of NYHQ.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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