Elmhurst Hospital Center opened its new Chest Pain Observation Unit Monday, capping a long-awaited, $1 million project which the staff said will ease their crowded emergency room.
“This is something that surely is needed here in this hospital,” said Antonio Martin, executive vice president of the city Health and Hospitals Corp., which operates Elmhurst Hospital Center.
The hospital, at 79-01 Broadway in Elmhurst, received $1 million in funding for the 13-bed unit from City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and the Council’s Queens delegation.
Chris Constantino, executive director for Elmhurst Hospital Center, said it had been given the funding in 2011 and started using the unit right after Monday’s ribbon-cutting.
“When we clear this out, we will start wheeling patients in,” he said.
Elmhurst’s new unit will be run by the emergency room staff with an assist by the cardiology staff. Constantino said under Medicare and Medicaid, patients who have chest pains but have not had a heart attack should be in an observation unit so medical staff can properly diagnose the best care. Patients can stay in the room for up to 23 hours for various tests such as sonograms and stress tests.
Dromm, who has taken his mother to the hospital for care in the past, said it has been a campaign promise of his to support Elmhurst in light of the numerous hospital closures that have taken place across the borough. He said Elmhurst is vitally important to the immigrant community, who often use the hospital for primary care.
“Elmhurst, in fact, is the place you go if you’re undocumented,” he said.
Queens has had several hospitals shut down over the past five, including the 2007 closing of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Flushing, the 2008 closing of Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, the 2009 closings of Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica and St. John’s Hospital Queens in Elmhurst and the closure two months ago of Peninsula Hospital in the Rockaways.
Constantino said even though Peninsula Hospital was far from Elmhurst, the ripple effects from the shutdown have still been felt at the center, which has seen a residual increase in demand.
“This room couldn’t come at a better time,” he said.
Monday’s ribbon-cutting for the new unit was greeted enthusiastically by about 100 hospital staff members, as well as a group of visiting nurses and doctors from China’s Fujian Provincial Hospital.
“This area is going to be a great help to our patients,” said Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur, regional director for the Queens Health Network, “to our nurses especially.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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