Flushing’s NYHQ unveils breast center on Main St.

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Ever since Dr. Karen Karsif joined the team of surgeons at New York Hospital Medical Center Queens in 1999, the hospital has been the largest provider of breast services in the borough.

But with the three NYHQ doctors who perform breast surgeries — Karsif, Dr. Kenneth Rifkind and Dr. Simon Fink  — working in separate areas of the large hospital, they were not able to share ideas about their practices as often as they would have liked.

On Friday, however, those doctors unveiled the solution to the problem.

Staffers and administrators officially opened NYHQ’s new breast center in a two-story brick house at 56-26 Main St. across the street from the hospital’s main building.

The new facility has room for the offices of the three surgeons, plus a fourth surgeon, Dr. Susan Lee, who is expected to soon join the team.

“It’s always better for patients if physicians can practice together and learn from each other,” said Karsif, the head of the center.

Dr. George Heinrich, chairman of the hospital’s board, agreed.

“This has got to be a group effort,” he said. “Otherwise the patients don’t get the right care.”

The doctors also have more room in the building. Beforehand, Karsif said she found herself in extremely cramped quarters.

“The patients would be hanging from the rafters,” she said. “It was difficult.”

The facility includes three examination rooms, a library with literature on breast diseases written in several languages. NYHQ administrators hope to bring to the center computers and videos designed to educate patients on the breast.

“I think we’ve turned this facility into a first-class breast center,” said Stephen Mills, the hospital’s president.

When located in the main building, the center saw 2,000 patients a year. The new facility has room for as many as 6,000 patients annually, Karsif said.

In the nearly four years since Karsif joined the hospital, the number of patients at the breast center has increased by 10 percent, and the number of surgeries performed has grown by 32 percent, according to data provided by NYHQ.

The increase is in part due to the hospital’s outreach program to the nearby Russian and Asian communities, Karsif said.

“There’s a lot of communities we still have to help,” she said. “The Hispanic community, the African-American community. (This facility) will allow us to do that.”

In addition to the doctors, the center is staffed by a genetic counselor. The counselor takes blood samples from patients to determine whether or not they have a gene that can cause breast cancer.

If a patient has the gene, there is an 85 percent chance that he or she will develop breast cancer, Karsif said, although only a small percentage of the population tests positive.

Many more cases of breast cancer affect people without the gene, Karsif said.

The renovation of the center was funded in part by $165,000 in discretionary funds from state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose).

“This is a major step forward from where you were,” Padavan said at the opening.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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