Rockaway Rallies For a Trauma Center

 Rockaway Rallies For a Trauma Center

By Katie McFadden

What do we want? A TRAUMA CENTER. When do we want it? NOW. On Tuesday, June 11, Councilwoman Selvena Brooks-Powers and the Far Rockaway Trauma and Healthcare Task Force held a rally on Mott Avenue to share the results of their study, which showed a clear answer—Rockaway needs a trauma facility.

Mott Avenue was closed off and full of members from the community, union members, elected officials, healthcare professionals and more to demand that Mayor Eric Adams and this administration fund a trauma facility as city budget negotiations are underway. “Our most urgent need that we must address is our public health network,” Brooks-Powers said. “We are at an inflection point and we have the ability to chart a new path for this community for generations to come.”

In October 2022, Brooks-Powers formed the Far Rockaway Trauma and Healthcare Task Force, to look into all avenues to bring a trauma care facility to the peninsula. The Task Force conducted surveys and compiled data into a study to show what Rockaway residents have long known. Brooks-Powers revealed some data from the study, showing Rockaway, which is home to roughly 130,000 people, had 15K EMS calls and 14K hospital transfers in one year, 700 of which were trauma related. “These are lives at stake,” the councilwoman said. The surveys revealed that 73% of Rockaway residents want a new trauma facility over expanding current hospital, St. John’s, which does not offer trauma care.

Brooks-Powers says it will take about $150 million to $200 million of the city budget to help move plans forward to develop a trauma care facility, which she says would be just 1% of the total city budget. “We need Mayor Adams and the administration to allocate these funds in the upcoming budget. We are fighting for time to save lives,” she said, citing one example, the recent death of Detective Jonathan Diller, who was shot on Mott Avenue in March, where the rally was held. Brooks-Powers shared that it took 10 minutes to get Diller off Mott Ave and another 45 minutes to the nearest trauma hospital—Jamaica Hospital, and that was with the roads being shut down to transport him.

“Let’s not forget the most important commodity when dealing with a trauma emergency—that’s time,” Brooks-Powers said. “Our community deserves time. Our cops and firefighters deserve time. Our mothers, fathers and our children deserve time. And now it is time for the mayor to act. We need a fully funded level 1 or level 2 trauma facility here in Rockaway.”

Brooks-Powers’ messaging was backed by a sea of support from near and far. She was joined by Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, a co-chair of the Task Force, Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse of Brooklyn who sits on the Committee on Hospitals, Councilwoman Lynn Schulman of Queens, who sits on the Committee on Health, Senator James Sanders, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, Assemblyman Khaleel Anderson, union leaders like Henry Garrido, executive director of DC37, PBA president Patrick Hendry, Oren Barzilay, president at Local 2507, Uniform EMTs, Paramedics & Inspectors – FDNY,  Rev. Dr. Les Mullings, founder and CEO of Challenge Charter Schools, Dr. Donald Morrish, CEO of Episcopal Health Services, Richard Altabe, president of JCCRP, Community Board 14 Chairwoman Dolores Orr, Lailah Boyd and others.

Many praised St. John’s Hospital for the work that they do, but Rockaway’s only hospital lacks a trauma unit. However, Dr. Morrish showed his full support for such a facility. “We support trauma care 100%. Every single member of our community requires and deserves the human right of getting basic trauma care and I applaud you for your efforts,” Dr. Morrish said.

Senator Sanders showed his support for not only a trauma unit but adding a heliport somewhere in Rockaway to transfer patients. Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato expanded on this, saying “We’re building all this housing. How can we not have the infrastructure that supports all of these new families coming here? There are buildings being built right now. Build a heliport on some of them.” Assemblyman Anderson, who was celebrating his birthday on Tuesday, said that this fight for proper healthcare in Rockaway has been going on too long. “We were here 12 years ago, marching to keep St. John’s open and save Peninsula Hospital and we lost Peninsula, but today is the day that we can chart a new path for trauma care on our peninsula. I’m not giving up on this fight.”

A call to action was given, advising everyone to sign a petition to bring a trauma center to Rockaway. All are asked to sign the petition at:

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