Volume 80, Number 7 | September 23 - 29, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Needs assessment is needed

To The Editor:
With St. Vincent’s Hospital gone, we need to continue to fight hard to make sure that everyone in our community has the full range of healthcare services they need and deserve, including a full-service hospital. We are heartened by the proposed partnership between North Shore-Long Island Jewish and VillageCare as they move forward with an urgent-care center. This facility and expanded outpatient services from other providers, including primary care, H.I.V. services and mental health services, are very important. However, they do not take the place of a hospital — or of an emergency room. 

While we believe our community requires an acute-care facility and emergency room, tragically, government and hospital executives are not convinced. To regain a hospital in our neighborhood, we will need to continue our fight on every level. This includes responding to false statements about the needs of the community with cold, hard facts. These statistics will bolster our communitywide effort to convince the State Department of Health and any potential hospital operator of the urgent need we face. Whether we like it or not, it is up to us to gather the necessary data.

That is why we are having an independent, professional community health needs assessment prepared.

Together with Community Boards 2 and 4, we are assembling a steering committee that will include local elected officials, community representatives, medical experts and stakeholders. The North Shore-L.I.J. Health System has agreed to do the professional data gathering and analysis under the steering committee’s direction. They are already doing an assessment as part of the urgent-care center project, and will partner with an academic institution to expand that work to do a thorough health needs assessment.

A comprehensive healthcare needs assessment of the St. Vincent’s catchment area can contribute to understanding the health status of local residents, healthcare utilization patterns, access to care and service needs and gaps. These are the very questions for which we need quantitative answers. The community cannot and must not wait for the State Department of Health to act. And well armed with facts, we must take this fight to them. 

A healthcare assessment is a necessary first step in the fight for our West Side healthcare system. Without this impartial step we may never see a new hospital. 
Councilmember Christine Quinn
Congressmember Jerrold Nadler
State Senator Thomas Duane
Borough President Scott Stringer
Assemblymember Richard Gottfried

No election disaster here

To The Editor:
The television news about voting in the primary headlined disasters — a polling place in Brooklyn that opened three hours late, a site in Queens that had no ballots, everywhere confused and confusing workers. But none of that happened in the 66th Assembly District, Part A. Instead, every one of the 17 sites had good workers and mostly happy voters.

We want to commend the coordinators, the poll workers and the voters from Westbeth on the Hudson to Sirovich on E. 12th St. for coping with new machines (which sometimes jammed), new ballots (print too small), late arriving police (workers were at every site by 5 a.m., police not until 5:40 — and they had the keys) and dealing graciously with occasional slowness, shouting, no-shows and so on. One example: An elderly woman arrived at Washington Square West and was told she was at the wrong site, that she should vote at City as School. She didn’t know where that was, so a worker walked her there!

Every site functioned well: Many voters were happy with the new process once the workers showed them how to do it. Systemic reform of the Board of Elections, including changes to the way poll workers are hired, trained and compensated, is necessary. We’re glad the New York City Council will be holding hearings soon on this topic and how the new electronic voting machines performed on primary day.

But for the most part, the worst pitfalls of instituting new voting machines were avoided in the Village. However, if you have any specific problems you’d like to report to us, please contact us at villagedistrictleaders@gmail.com .

P.S.: We need a few more stalwart local residents to work the polls on Nov. 2, from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. (or a half-shift). Please e-mail us at the address above if you are interested!
Keen Berger and Brad Hoylman
Berger and Hoylman are Democratic district co-leaders, 66th Assembly District, Part A  

9/11 memorial ‘extremists’  

To The Editor:
Re “9/11 and the mosque” (editorial, Sept. 16):

Mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal is a deadbeat who has not paid his rent or his city taxes. Somehow, however, he came up with $4.5 million in cash to buy 45 Park Place.

Imam Rauf is being sued as a “slumlord” in Union City, N.J., where he owns two buildings. Obviously, these are not trustworthy people. Do you want them moving into your neighborhood?

However, the bigger question is how we commemorate 9/11. You say extremists infringe upon the day’s meaning, as they do. Would you define a World Trade Center 9/11 memorial that bans all the authentic artifacts of the W.T.C. — all that we embraced as commemorating the attacks — as “extreme?” When the 13-member jury says the Koenig “Sphere” cannot be returned in order to “protect the integrity of the design” (www.renewnyc.org, jury statement) is that not “extreme?” When the architect says, as he told me, that returning it would be “didactic” — it would tell us what to think — isn’t that extreme?

When Mayor Bloomberg says the memorial cannot include the words “firefighter” or “police officer” or identify Fire Chaplain Father Mychal Judge as “Fire Chaplain Father” is that not extreme?

Does not excluding all of that infringe upon our understanding of the day? Does that not impact upon the meaning of the day?

The sad fact is, the extremists long ago took over Ground Zero and 9/11.

On 9/11 my brother, F.D.N.Y. Captain William F. Burke, Jr., of Engine Company 21 gave his life. I served on the family advisory committee on the memorial and the advisory committee on the museum center to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
Michael Burke

Rising above addiction

To The Editor:
September carries with it many meanings — back to school, the start of fall and football season. But one that may sometimes be overlooked is the celebration of recovery: September is National Recovery Month.

According to the Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 23 million people in the United States are classified with substance-abuse disorders each year. At Greenwich House we work to help New Yorkers struggling to overcome addiction, and during this month of celebration, we honor our staff and clients, as well as all the other New Yorkers working to support this cause.

When dealing with addiction, recovery becomes a lifelong process. Greenwich House remains a stronghold where people can find the reliable and caring support necessary to continue through this process. Our unique treatment centers offer the opportunity for clients to empower themselves as well as others facing this struggle and, as a result, remain at almost 45 percent above the standard success rate in New York State for substance-use reduction.

Some clients have even taken the opportunities they receive at Greenwich House and built on them to further assist others in their treatments. Patients at our clinic have set up a food and clothing pantry that distributes donated supplies to clients in need. After rising above their addictions, they now help others to do the same.

Recovering from addiction is an everyday struggle. With personal and consistent support, there can be bright lights that rise above the shadows. I hope that you will join me in recognizing those who have made this commitment to recovery. By working together as a community, we can raise awareness of addiction during Recovery Month, and encourage other New Yorkers facing this struggle to seek the treatment services they need.
Roy Leavitt
Leavitt is executive director and C.E.O., Greenwich House, Inc.

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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