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Quinn Promises Healthcare for All at Betances Gathering


Right to left: Council Member Joel Rivera, Chair of the Health Committee, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Wanda Evans, Executive Director of Betances Health Center, a representative from the Community Healthcare Association, Ronda Kotelcheck, Executive Director of the Primary Care Development Corporation, and Counsilmember Alan Gerson.
Yori Yanover

A while back, outgoing Governor George Pataki, responding to a growing number of hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy and a staggering number of New Yorkers without health insurance, assembled the Berger Commission to evaluate which local hospitals deserve to survive and which must join the trash heap of medical history.

“The governor did us a favor,” said Council Member Helen Sears from Jackson Heights, Queens. Not because NY Democrats feel compelled to applaud their Republican governor’s slashing impulse – they do not – but because the NY City Council decided to use the energy of Pataki’s attack to slingshot their own campaign on behalf of the state’s ailing hospital system. Sears was deposited with the task of interviewing health consumers in the five boroughs, tallying their gripes (which she says sounded remarkably alike, no matter which borough the griping emanated from) and issuing a report to complement hospital closings with responsible steps to heal the system.

The report, A Prescription for New York City’s Health Care Crisis has been applauded by politicians and healthcare providers alike. It was introduced this morning by Council Speaker Christine Quinn at the Betances Health Center on Henry Street, where Quinn, local Councilmember Alan Gerson, Helen Sears and other members of the council and the healthcare industry were welcomed by Betance’s Executive Director Wanda Evans.

These dignitaries chose Betances to present their new proposal, said Quinn, because this kind of thriving neighborhood facility comprises the foundation of their new approach to healthcare. Like its larger local sister, Gouverneur’s, Betances offers preventive and primary care on a neighborhood level.

In our brave new world of expensive HMO’s and millions of uninsured Americans, much of our healthcare has migrated from the family doctor’s office to big city emergency rooms. By the time the uninsured get to an ER physician, help is often too late and too expensive.

Enter the neighborhood clinic, where discomforts are dispensed with quickly and efficiently, long before they become ER tragedies.

The Task Force's recommendations were founded on principles that read like a new bill of rights:

  1. Everyone has a right to quality care in their own communities.
  2. Everyone should have a medical "home" in which a physician is able to direct and coordinate an individual's medical care.
  3. The health care system should be able to provide for the basic health needs of all New Yorkers, while remaining financially sound.
In closing, Speaker Quinn predicted that both the Berger Commission and the State Legislators would adopt most of the City Council’s recommendations. “And if we don’t win round one, we’ll keep coming back,” she promised.

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