By Alicia Venter
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center unveiled its pediatric ophthalmology center on Thursday, Dec. 8, a state-of-the-art facility unlike any others in Queens.
Located on the second floor of the Axel Building, the new facility will provide daily vision services to children who previously may have had limited access to comprehensive ophthalmologic care.
Though there are other pediatric ophthalmology in Queens, there was not a center of excellence that combined all the services Jamaica Hospital Medical Center now has into one place. Such services would require Queens residents to travel to Long Island or Manhattan.
Maspeth Federal Savings donated $1 million to complete the center, following years of planning by Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. The organization is the sole donor to the pediatric ophthalmology center, the hospital shared.
It is this donation that propelled the completion of the project, said Dr. Julia Shulman, Chairperson of the Department of Ophthalmology and pediatric retina specialist.
“There is a big shortage of high-level pediatric ophthalmology expertise in Queens, and we see that in our current eye center because we take care of pediatric patients,” she shared in an interview. “We wanted to be able to create a dedicated space where all the necessary technology and expertise could come together.“
In the past, services could not be provided every day of the week because of space limitations, and children would be serviced in the same center as adults.
However, there are certain space requirements for examining children that are different from adults. The rooms must be 12 feet, for example. Every type of diagnostic equipment that could be needed to examine a child’s eye can now be found in the center, Shulman explained.
“It’s essentially a one-stop shop depending on what the issue is that we can help them with,” she said.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four preschool-aged children have an undiagnosed or untreated vision problem. They recommend that children get regular eye exams to keep their eyes healthy. Common vision problems in children include refractive errors, amblyopia (or ‘lazy eye’) and strabismus (crossed eyes). Any of these issues, as well as simply getting a vision screening for a quick evaluation of a child’s eyes, can be addressed at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
Vision disability is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults 18 and older, the CDC states, and one of the most prevalent conditions among children. Approximately 6.8 percent of children younger than 18 in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition, and nearly three percent of children of that age are blind or visually impaired.
“If their children are having any trouble with their eyes, or if they just want to have their children’s eyes checked, now there is going to be tremendous availability,” Shulman said. “If, heaven forbid, their children do end up having a problem, we will be able to diagnose it and treat it at a very high level.”
Thomas Rudzewick, President, and CEO of Maspeth Federal Savings, was in attendance at the ribbon-cutting, as well as other members of the Maspeth Federal team.
“Maspeth Federal Savings has been working with Jamaica Hospital throughout the pandemic and has provided mission-critical equipment and supporting donations,” Rudzewick said in a statement. “As a community bank, it’s incredibly important to us that the people and facilities in our community have the resources they need to do what they do best, in this case, providing care that our children desperately need.”
Rudzewick was praised for the contributions the bank made to ensure the completion of the project.
“Think about the impact of this donation,” said Tom Grech, President and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, at the ribbon-cutting. “We are grateful as New Yorkers and as people in Queens. We are thankful to all the Rudzewicks.”
According to their website, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center serves a population greater than 1.2 million in Queens and Eastern Brooklyn.
For more information about the center, visit https://jamaicahospital.org.