Tents lined the intersection of Stockholm Street and Wyckoff Avenue in Bushwick, where families met with doctors, nurses and members of the hospital staff to learn about respiratory therapy programs, HIV/AIDS prevention, dental hygiene, eye care and a number of other services.
Dr. Sanjivan Patel, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, said that with the communities of Ridgewood, Bushwick and Williamsburg having one of highest pediatric populations in New York City, the importance of reaching out to the youth has become more vital to Wyckoff Heights.
“We have a high population of pediatric patients and their needs are tremendous,” Patel said.
According to Patel, asthma rates are among the highest in the state, while obesity is the second highest.
“Also, mental illness is very high,” he added, explaining that many children don’t get the care they need. “Kids are here with ADHD, autism, anxiety disorders, and when they are not being taken care of, they drop out of schools and join gangs.”
The event gave the hospital a chance to showcase the Asthmapolis system, a privately funded and FDA-approved tool that combines smartphone technology with asthma prevention techniques.
“It’s monitoring the asthma closely with a digital cutting-edge approach,” Patel explained of the project that he helped to fund out of his own pocket. “Parents know why their child is taking more medicine with text messages in an LCD system, and we are the first here at Wyckoff to do this.”
Asthmapolis is free to the community and currently has 31 kids using it. Patel said his goal is to grow the program to 100 by the end of the year.
Beryl Augustine, vice president for Communications and Marketing Development at the hospital, said events like the health fair are vital to the community.
“Once people have free screenings, it lessons the chances that they’re going to get chronic illnesses,” she said. “Lessening you’re chances of getting chronic illnesses only lengthens your lifespan and the quality of your life.”