NYC Health + Hospitals Elmhurst turns 190

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur, Helen Arteaga and Dr. Mitchell Katz wished Elmhurst Hospital a happy 190th birthday.

Last Thursday, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst brought community members together to celebrate its 190th anniversary.

The celebration reflected on the hospital’s long history of serving all people regardless of class, race and immigration status, especially during times of citywide need.

Even before COVID-19 took the world by storm, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst has helped the community fight numerous pandemics, including cholera, dengue fever, yellow fever, Spanish flu, polio and smallpox.

“It was very clear from our birth that Elmhurst was ready to fight every pandemic that hit our beloved New York City,” CEO Helen Arteaga said. “There was always a sense of responsibility in being determined and defenders of our communities, especially communities of color…Communities and groups that were told they were not good enough, that were told they’re not welcome, that were told they’re not American enough.”

NYC Health + Hospitals president Dr. Mitchell Katz ascribes his current position to his passion for giving all patients the highest quality of care in the simplest way possible.

“The single most important thing will always be the doctor, the nurse, the social worker, the tech, the person cleaning the room, the dietary person and the interaction with the patient,” he said. “I think Elmhurst really demonstrates that, that Elmhurst really is about providing the very best care for the individual.”

Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur, CMO, has 52 years of experience working at Elmhurst Hospital.

In 1964, she was the second resident in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine when she was assigned to Elmhurst.

Although the hospital was practically empty after her initial assignment, the hospital now hosts 785 workers with diverse skills, such as psychologists and nurse practitioners, and between 350 and 400 residents and fellows.

“I’m so proud and happy to say who we are here and how much we are able to provide our services to the community,” she said. “We are really and truly excited to use the best care of medicine in this borough.”

Joann Gull, CNO, also noted Elmhurst Hospital’s significant growth during her 51 years of working there.

“When I originally came, I had the normal plan of staying a year or two and then moving on. But what I found was something that was amazing. It was the culture of the institution, the mission, the people who we got to work with, having the experience of taking care of patients who were really in need…that, I think, was the secret sauce of Elmhurst that so many of us stayed all these years,” she said.

Moshirpur also noted the immense support given to the hospital by senators, borough presidents and other elected officials.

Joann Gull, Dr. Mitchell Katz, Helen Arteaga and Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur thanked Queens Borough President Donovan Richards for his generosity towards Elmhurst Hospital.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards donated $7.5 million to Elmhurst Hospital during his first 19 months in office.

“This is a hospital made up of immigrants and working class staff who serve the predominantly immigrant and working class residents of Elmhurst and our neighboring communities,” he said. “No matter what your socioeconomic status is, no matter what your zip code is, no matter if you’re documented or undocumented, if you’re a United States citizen or not, you get quality service here at Elmhurst Hospital.”

Judith Berdy, president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, presented on Elmhurst Hospital’s long journey from its founding to the present day, with special attention to the several pandemics that the hospital has fought.

Judith Berdy gives the crowd a history lesson about Elmhurst Hospital.

“These patients have nothing. They have very few visitors and, trust me, Dr. Katz will attest to how many lockdowns and quarantines we have,” she said, “Mentally, it really has been exhausting. We provide what we can for our residents. Health + Hospitals does a great job.”

Despite NYC Health + Hospitals.Elmhurst’s advancements in technology and the copious New Yorkers it has helped, its 190th anniversary is only the beginning.

“Let us imagine that new AI technology is accessible for all, that we have a state of the art emergency room, that we have a beautiful building full of light for our behavioral health towers…let us imagine Elmhurst speaking more languages than Google…let us be unstoppable in removing social and racial barriers for healthcare,” Arteaga said. “Our big dreams are just like New Yorkers’, and we are New Yorkers. So New York, we either go big or we go home, and I don’t think we’re going home.”

Area sees 3 hit-and-run incidents in few-day span

Two in Ridgewood, one in Elmhurst; one dead, one in critical condition

By Jessica Meditz

jmeditz@queensledger.com

Residents of Ridgewood, Elmhurst and its surrounding neighborhoods were shocked to hear the news of three separate hit-and-run incidents occurring within days of each other.

The first incident occurred on Aug. 10 in Ridgewood at Wyckoff Avenue and George Street, where a 28-year-old woman and a two-year-old girl in a stroller were struck, along with a 35-year-old man who was hit while unloading a truck.

Officers of the 104th Precinct conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle, and ordered the driver to step out. Instead, the suspect stepped on the gas and drove away.

The individual could not be located, but his 2021 Dodge Durango was discovered abandoned on Woodbine Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn shortly thereafter.

The two female victims sustained minor injuries, and the male was transported to Wyckoff Hospital with a compound leg fracture.

The second incident also occurred in Ridgewood, at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Hancock Street this past Sunday.

The scene where 74-year-old Be Tran was killed in Ridgewood. (Photo: Citizen)

Police say the driver of a black BMW was traveling east on Myrtle Avenue and struck a 74-year-old man who was crossing the street.

The male victim, Be Tran, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The suspect behind the wheel fled southbound on Seneca Avenue.

Tran was a father and worker for DoorDash.

ABC7 reported that the company released a statement after learning of his death: “This is a heartbreaking tragedy and our thoughts are with his loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time,” the company said.

“We are reaching out to his loved ones to extend our deepest condolences and offer our support. We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation and hope those responsible for this horrible crime are brought to justice.”

The latest incident happened in Elmhurst early Tuesday morning.

At around 2 a.m., police responded to a 911 call of a pedestrian struck in the vicinity of Roosevelt Avenue and 76 Street.

Upon arrival, officers discovered a 45-year-old man, unresponsive, lying in the roadway with severe body trauma.

The victim was taken to NYC Health + Hospitals in Elmhurst, and is listed in critical condition.

Investigation by the NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad revealed that the male victim was crossing Roosevelt Avenue when he was struck by a gray Honda Sedan traveling eastbound, which fled the scene.

The suspect remains at large.

Ridgewood Tenants Union, a tenant rights advocacy group, organized a protest in response to the death of Be Tran.

In a release, the group argued that New York City should work to become a safer place for pedestrians, and until more measures are taken, vulnerable communities remain in danger.

“They were all victims of reckless hit-and-runs that could have been prevented if New York City were a safer city for pedestrians. A block away from the latest fatality, residents have been calling on the DOT to install traffic signals in the school zone at Weirfield Street and Seneca Ave, the only intersection on Seneca Ave from St. Felix Avenue to Dekalb Avenue without a traffic signal,” the statement read. “Until these pedestrian protections are put in place, more traffic violence is bound to occur, putting children, the elderly and the community at large in danger.”

At press time, no arrests have been made in regard to all the incidents and investigations are ongoing.

Meng helps secure $3 million for new labor and delivery wing at Elmhurst Hospital

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng and representatives from the office of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited Elmhurst Hospital to celebrate $3 million in federal funding secured for a new Labor and Delivery unit on the hospital’s fifth floor.

In honor of Women’s Health Month in May, Meng led a “wall-breaking” ceremony before touring the current Labor and Delivery unity to see where the future renovations will take place.

Federal funding for the initiative — which will support the hospital’s goal of improving health indicators for pregnant women and decreasing maternal and infant mortality rates — was made available under the Community Project Funding Program and through the offices of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer.

Black and Native American women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy-related causes, and black babies are twice as likely to die than white babies, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. While 700 pregnancy deaths occur per year, two-thirds of them are considered to be preventable.

Rep. Grace Meng and representatives from the office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited Elmhurst Hospital to celebrate $3 million in federal funding secured for a new Labor and Delivery unit on the hospital’s fifth floor.

In New York City, black women have an eight times greater risk of pregnancy-related death than white women. They were also three times more likely than their white counterparts to experience severe maternal morbidity, which can include blood clots, kidney failure, stroke or heart attack.

Meng said she was proud to deliver the federal funds to the local hospital, enabling expanded access and care to families. Construction of the new hospital wing is scheduled for spring and summer 2022

“Elmhurst plays a critical role in the health and wellbeing of our communities, and I cannot wait until the renovation is completed,” Meng said. “All families deserve a modern, safe, and equitable maternal health care experience, and investments like this are needed to ensure that the hospital can continue to provide efficient, high-quality and state of the art services that local residents need and deserve. It is also crucial to meet the growing needs of the area. When the COVID-19 crisis began, NYC Health + Hospitals in Elmhurst was in the heart of the epicenter, and this project is an example of how we must build back better and stronger as we work to recover from the pandemic. I’m excited for this renovation to begin, and look forward to the upgrades benefiting Queens families for decades to come.”

Meng also took part in a patient baby shower co-sponsored by MetroPlusHealth, which included educational presentations on prenatal care, breastfeeding, safe sleep, nutrition, and the hospital’s doula program. Community-based organizations CommonPoint Queens and the Queens Museum also joined in the baby shower events. Following presentations, patients had the opportunity to win prizes by answering trivia questions related to well-baby care.

NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst CEO Helen Arteaga-Landaverde said that she is beyond ecstatic and grateful to lawmakers who will help see the project through to its completion..

“Our expectant mothers and newborns will greatly benefit from these investments in infrastructure and improving patient care and patient satisfaction at our facility,” Arteaga-Landaverde said. “We look forward to working closely with our federal legislators to ensure that Elmhurst has the resources it needs to meet the growing healthcare demands of our community.”

Elmhurst resident Helen Sokol turns 100

Born in 1922 in Nanticoke, Penn., Helen Sokol eventually moved to Queens as a young woman to spearhead her life, career, and family.
Now, Sokol celebrates 100 years of life and nearly 80 years of calling Queens home.

Her friends at AARP Elmhurst Rego Park Chapter 2889 organized a birthday celebration for her, in which representatives of local elected officials and other community members attended.

Sokol, whose family came from Slovakia, lived with relatives in Middle Village when she first moved to the city in the 1940s.

She later moved into a one bedroom apartment in Elmhurst, after she married her husband, Emil.

The Sokols had three sons: Emil, Thomas and Edward, and two grandchildren: Katie and Brian.

Edward Sokol, who owns Ace Wine & Liquor on Grand Avenue in Elmhurst, said that his mother is known for many things, but most notably, she’s known as a hard worker.

Before she had children, Sokol worked in communications for American Airlines at LaGuardia Airport. She was also heavily involved with different trade publications, including Billboard.

“Even though she only had a high school diploma at that point, she was able to work herself up and become involved with different publications,” her son, Edward said.

“She was a hard worker from the day she started, to the day that she retired,” he continued. “I could celebrate her every day.”
People also remarked upon her sense of humor and love of swing music and dance.

In celebration of this milestone, New York City Councilman Robert Holden, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo, NYS Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards presented Sokol with various certificates.

As for her secret to a long, healthy life, Sokol said she made sure to always keep busy and surround herself with people who make her feel young.

“A big part of my life was taking care of my mother who had health problems, and then my husband. But I always dealt with young people,” Sokol said.

“I never heard people complain about their aches and pains and things like that, so I never knew what to expect,” she continued. “As long as you’re around young people, you’re curious. And the young people I worked with accepted me as one of their own… as long as you’re feeling young, that’s what matters.”

Elmhurst native makes impact on sneaker industry

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Sarah Sukumaran, founder of Lilith NYC.

The sneaker and fashion industries were always an interest of East Elmhurst native Sarah Sukumaran, but they were never something she thought she would pursue as a career.

A business graduate of Babson College, she found herself in the world of marketing and tech in New York, working as the head director product at Nike.

It was during March 2020 when she decided to quit her job and launch Lilith NYC, a Queens-based footwear brand for women and femmes in the sneaker world.

“Spending time at Nike, I realized that I wanted to definitely create shoes for women because for so long, I felt they were underserved in terms of selection, sizing and colorways,” Sukumaran said. “I gravitated towards men’s styles still as a 20-something-year-old, couldn’t get my size, didn’t care for the colorways dropped for women and the silhouettes had still been centered around male sport.”

Sukumaran emphasized that women spend more money on sneakers than men do, owning 80 percent of the wallet share.

Despite this, her time at Nike revealed that the industry is not moving at the pace that she would like, and feels that brands should make an effort to cater to their audience.

Lilith is Sukumaran’s outlet to reach out to other women who love sneakers and explore feminine identity and style through its designs.

“Everything from the brand top down is really through the lens of the divine feminine, because historically, everything has been either hyper masculinized or hyper feminized. In sneaker culture, the expectation for women is super sexually presented through campaigns or ads, or it was the opposite where you have to be a tomboy,” Sukumaran said.

“Especially in 2022, I question how we can express our gender, sexuality or style on a spectrum, and I wanted to do that through the lens of the divine feminine,” she continued. “It’s an energy that we all have, but it transcends the gender binary and doesn’t pigeonhole us the way the industry has wanted us to.”

Lilith’s debut silhouette, the Caudal Lure, is designed by Sara Jaramillo and named after a type of mimicry snakes take on to lure their prey. The shoe’s outsole resembles a snake’s tail.

The serpent, throughout region, culture and time, has been a symbol of the divine feminine, and this imagery is ever present in the brand.

As the daughter of Tamil refugees, Sukumaran expresses her culture through this imagery, since the Hindu goddess of protection is represented with a five headed cobra.

She simultaneously ties in her connection to Queens to the brand through Caudal Lure’s colors, concrete jungle green and amberlou brick.

The green pays homage to the grit of Queens and lush of urban life, redefining the urban jungle, and the amber-toned brick represents the bricks used by architect Louis Allmendinger for homes throughout Elmhurst, Sunnyside and Ridgewood.

Lilith NYC is currently online only, but Sukumaran said a physical storefront in Queens is a goal of hers.

She has participated with in-person popups, such as Queens Collaborative, to share the designs with locals, and hopes to release more colorways and a new design next year.

During Women’s History Month, Sukumaran embraces the fact that Lilith NYC is a women-run brand and commits to sharing women’s achievements through storytelling.

“Whether you’re a woman in tech, footwear or architecture, women’s contributions are constantly erased. They’re constantly overlooked, and sometimes attributed to men,” Sukumaran said.

“That’s why we named it Lilith; she was considered the first feminist because she didn’t want to be submissive to Adam. Historically, she’s been written out of history in a negative light, and so the name is to tell our own stories and men don’t get to dictate it.”

Elmhurst honors those affected by COVID, cancer

The front facade of Elmhurst Hospital now features 655 lights, each paying tribute to a frontline worker, cancer survivor or someone affected by COVID-19.
Last week, the hospital illuminated the exterior exhibit while remembering and honoring those affected.
“Cancer has touched so many of our lives and, as we all know, so did COVID,” said Elmhurst Hospital CEO Helen Arteaga. “Even in my own family we’ve suffered from both cancer and COVID. Today, we stand just a little bit brighter because we are reminded by these lights that there is always light in sadness.”
The first ten names on the 90-foot long installation are staff members from Elmhurst and Queens hospitals that passed away due to COVID-19. Integrated into the exhibit are photos of the community and hospital workers.
Paddle for a Cure NYC, a support organization for breast cancer survivors/supporters, and Women in Lighting and Design (WILD), a networking organization for women in the architectural lighting community were integral in creating the exhibit.
Leah Salmorin, CEO of Paddle for a Cure NYC, expressed her gratitude to Elmhurst Hospital workers who comforted her during her own treatment for breast cancer and COVID-19.
“By coming together, we share our emotional support for each other,” she said. “Be a light to others and be a light to yourselves. The brighter we shine the better the world will become.”
WILD President Kelly Roberts said the exhibit creates a place for people who have been affected by the pandemic to be remembered, especially in one of the areas hardest hit by COVID.
“We decided to use light to bring joy back to the Elmhurst community,” she said. “This connection and interaction with the installation is exactly what we hoped and envisioned for the community.”
Lights are still available to be purchased in tribute of a loved one or friend, to remember those lost or to celebrate those who survived from all cancers or COVID, or to thank a frontline worker. Visit pfcnyc.org/lightforlife

Elmhurst Hospital commemorates 9/11 survivors

 

By Evan Triantafilidis

 

Woodside resident Dominick Artale says he probably has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (CPOD), as a result of volunteering at Ground Zero in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, although he’s yet to be officially diagnosed.

Battling different types of cancers and suffering from severe lung problems and sleep apnea, Artale can still recall what it was like to watch the events unfold from across the East River.

“It was a beautiful day, but it turned to hell,” Artale said. “I’m thankful I wasn’t down there. I would have been, but I had a fight with my work partner two weeks before. He didn’t want to work or I would have been in the tower.”

Artale’s work partner would develop thyroid cancer as a result of being exposed to the dust cloud, and the horrors of that day threatened Artale’s physical and mental health.

“I thought it was a nightmare,” Artale added. “Every morning I would wake up and see the smoke on the way to work. I went down to volunteer to help, I wanted to play my part in it as an American. I felt helpless.”

Two decades later, the memories of that day are still stuck with Artale, now 66.

But he’s not alone.

For the past three years, Artale has been part of the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program at Elmhurst Hospital, which was created to provide no-cost medical and behavioral health services to the first responders and survivors.

At Elmhurst Hospital, services have been provided to approximately 900 survivors. The WTC Health Program also operates in Manhattan at Bellevue Hospital and Gouverneur Hospital, caring for more than 13,000 patients at the three NYC Health + Hospitals locations.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the attacks, Elmhurst Hospital recognized and paid tribute to the survivors they have cared for since 2011.

Hospital CEO Helen Arteaga, praised the partnership between the health providers and the patients, which she says brings a sense of community to Elmhurst Hospital.

“For us, it’s not just the physical and clinical work,” Arteaga said. “For us, it’s that true partnership of holistic care. We are there for our community during the good, bad and the ugly.”

Arteaga was working in the emergency room at Northwell Hospital in Manhasset on September 11, preparing for an expected flood of casualties. Instead, she recalls a somber moment when no patients showed up.

“It was the worst silence of my life,” said Artega. “I remember when we realized no one was coming, just the tears, because we felt so helpless that we couldn’t help anybody.”

Patients in the program have access to psychologists, physicians, social workers and more support staff within the city’s hospital system.

Enrollment for the WTC Health Program remains open and eligible for New Yorkers, including those who are now in their 20s and 30s who were children when the attacks occurred.

“They listen to me and they understand,” Artale said. “They know that I’ve seen things that a lot of people didn’t see. I could call them at any time and they will be there for me.”

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