ASTORIA – The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mt. Sinai Queens (MSC) Infusion Center on February 27 was a harbinger of great things to come as the expansion and renovation of the hospital progresses.
Caryn Schwab, the Executive Director of MSQ, welcomed the guests and introduced the Center, which will provide: treatment of all blood disorders, benign or malign; blood product transfusion; growth factor injection; biologic therapy infusion amd dedicated social work.” She also took a moment to note the passing of former State Senator George Onorato, who “with his wife Athena, was part of the fabric of this community.”
Schwab did not offer a date for the total completion of the massive project, but she told TNH that the new emergency room is expected to open by the end of the year.
While the focus was on the new multi-specialty cancer clinic, the speakers shared their vision for the overall project that will turn MSQ into a desperately needed state-of-the-art healthcare provider not only for Astoria but all of Western Queens.
As though the pain of seeing a loved one suffer were not enough, Astoria families often had to endure the frustration of going to Manhattan for quality healthcare, to “cross a bridge” in the oft-spoken words State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, and City Councilmen Costas Constantinides and Jimmy van Bremer, community leaders who fought long and hard for the renovation and expansion of the hospital who were present.
Dr. Howard Greenberg, who has been practicing hematology and oncology in Astoria for 30 years, is the Center’s new director. “Over the years medical oncology has become more and more complex…there are new exciting and effective treatment options… and we have reached th point of being able to cure the incurable,” he said, but he noted that “many of those options were not available on this side of the river…but because of this Center we are now able to fill that need in the community.”
“We now have the best of both worlds: a world class cancer center in the comfort of your neighborhood,” he concluded.
Schwab introduced Gianaris and called him “an incredible friend to MSQ and me personally.” Gianaris told her “thank you for all the great work that you do on behalf of MSQ and for bringing high quality care to our neighborhood.”
He said that in addition to community groups – acknowledged the presence of George Kitsios, the president of the Greek American Homeowners Association – “it’s great to have an institution like Mt. Sinai… and whatever support you need,” he said to Schwab, he and his colleague will provide it.
Simotas was called by Schwab “another great supporter of the hospital.” Simotas said, “I grew up not too far from here and I grew up down the block. I went across the river visiting my father at Mr. Sinai,” personally testifying that “It’s not just the patients who will find comfort with the new facility, it’s the families…thank you so much Caryn, to your team, including Judy Rubin, and to Mt. Sinai for realizing the beauty of this community and for all of the families. You have made this neighborhood an even more attractive place to live and on behalf of people with growing families like myself, thank you.”
Constantinides Expressed his apprecation to everyone at MSQ “who made it their mission to be sure that we have world- class healthcare here in this thriving and growing community. We needed a hospital with that vision and that is what you provided.”
He declared “I was proud to work with my colleague, Jimmy van Bremer,” to obtain $2.1 million in City funding for a new pet scan machine to make the new building even better and I look forward to continue helping to support that.”
Constantinides prompted Schwab to thank him and van Bremer for the scanner, and explained that “We are dependent on governmental support and private philanthropy in order to do the good work that we do…the City Council and the State legislature have been incredibly helpful.”
Van Bremer said he is grateful to have quality colleagues like those present fighting for the people of Queens and institutions like MSQ. Edward Babor represented Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.
A few days earlier Mt. Sinai Queens demonstrated its community outreach with its “Eat Heartily” event hosted and sponsored by the Central Sushi Bar and Lounge. Celebrity Chef Rocco Sacramone, chef and owner of Trattoria L’incontro, gave a healthy eating cooking demonstration.
He emphasized portion control but also promoted the “everything in moderation” approach from Greek philosophy.