Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio, State Senator Jessica Ramos and city health officials cut the ribbon on a COVID-19 Center of Excellence located at 37-50 72nd Street in Jackson Heights.
The site is the second of three centers of excellence that the city plans to open in neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic. The first center in the Tremont section of the Bronx opened last November, and has already treated 600 patients. The last site will open in Bushwick later this month.
The 26,000-square-foot community health clinic features 20 exam rooms and a digital imaging suite. It was designed to provide not just primary health care services, but also specialized services like pulmonary and cardiology care, radiology and diagnostic services, and mental health services.
Patients will have access to cancer screenings, dental and vision care, diabetes management, podiatry, adult medicine and more.
“We now know COVID doesn’t just walk away, leave your body,” de Blasio said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “For some people, it lingers in very painful, challenging ways.”
The mayor’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity announced that the three COVID-19 Centers of Excellence will be located in communities of color most affected by the pandemic. According to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in Jackson Heights nearly 37 percent of people who have been tested for COVID-19 have been positive for the virus.
Roughly 30 percent of people in Tremont and 25 percent of people in Bushwick who got tested for COVID also tested positive.
Ramos said her community was at the “heart of the epicenter” during the outset of the pandemic. She said the opening of the Jackson Heights clinic is about being forward-thinking.
“We need to get to the bottom, as we continue learning about the vaccine and all of the variants that have unfortunately come out,” she said. “We need to figure out what the long-term effects of this virus will be on the human body and on communities just like ours.”
Dr. Ted Long, director of the NYC Test and Trace Corps, said the COVID-19 Centers of Excellence are equipped to handle any issues patients may develop after they have had the coronavirus.
As a primary care physician, Long said many of his patients are still having problems with breathing, heart issues and neurological complications. He said one out of every three people who had COVID with symptoms will go on to have a chronic condition.
“These are the people that we refer to as long-haulers,” Long said. “They need this center, which is equipped to give them all of the care they need for whatever they’re experiencing after having COVID.”
Patients can be referred to the COVID-19 Center of Excellence after a hospital visit or through their primary care provider, city officials said. Positive COVID-19 test results or antibodies are not required to receive care at the site.
The site will be open Monday through Saturday.
“This COVID Center of Excellence gives us a glimpse of the future about how we’re going to have a recovery after COVID,” Long added. “I wanted to say that your community here was hit the hardest of anywhere back last spring from COVID, and given everything that you’ve been through, you deserve this clinic.”