Grant money aids new St. John’s centers and upgrades


From a pharmacy opening on May 29 to planning for a pair of new health care centers, a teaching center and other upgrades and renovations, much is happening at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway. The health care facility was awarded nearly $11.115 million in 2018-19 and is managing $30 million in grants.

Using a $3.955 million grant from the New York State Department of Health, the only hospital on the Rockaway Peninsula that also serves the Five Towns is planning to build a 3,850-square-foot radiation oncology center. Plans include consultation, exam and patient dressing rooms, state-of-the-art equipment, and what hospital officials said will be the Rockaway’s only linear accelerator. The machine customizes high energy X-rays or electrons to conform to a tumor’s shape, destroys cancer cells but does not harm the surrounding healthy tissue.

A women’s comprehensive health center will be constructed with a $3.117 million grant also from the state’s DOH. Behavioral health, breast surgery, cancer screening, maternal fetal medicine to high-risk obstetric patients, nutrition, routine and sub-specialty gynecological and obstetrical, urogynecology and ultrasound, mammography and bone density scanning are the included services.

“It is an exciting time at St. John’s as we are in the midst of updating our existing facilities, building new facilities, and expanding our medical offerings,” said hospital CEO Gerard Walsh. “As the premier health system in the Rockaways, St. John’s is committed to providing the best health care to patients and residents of our surrounding communities.”

A 32,000-square-foot teaching center in Partnership with Ross University will be built across the street. The four-story center with a basement will have four examination simulation laboratories, two general simulation labs, a large multi-use simulation lab, a simulation operating room and a large multi-use auditorium. The center will also offer clinical services as audiology, a breast clinic, cardiac care, cardiothoracic care, dermatology, ear, nose and throat; endocrinology, hematology, neurology, OB/GYN, oncology, orthopedic, podiatry, pulmonary, and vascular treatment.

St. John’s had what officials called a “soft opening” of its new in-house pharmacy that can be used by patients and non-patients. “We have to wait for the go-ahead from the New York State Department of Health to start accepting insurance plans, which can take up to three months after the May 29 launch,” said Thomas Melillo, the hospital’s director of marketing and strategic planning. He added that pharmacy payments could be made in cash until state approval is obtained. The pharmacy includes a system that identifies all of a customer’s medications to help ensure that each prescription is received.

A month-long pilot program is under way with a robot using ultraviolet light to eliminate germs to supplement the staff’s cleaning and disinfecting of rooms. Controlled by an iPad, the robot is placed in the room and covers the entire space. The device also documents how long the job takes and calls to alert someone when it is completed.

The overhaul of the lobby continues with a new café and gift shop being built, and on June 17, the hospital holds a golf outing at the Seawane Country Club in Hewlett Harbor to fundraise for its labor and delivery unit. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilman Donovan Richards will be honored for helping to obtain grant money totaling more than $4 million.

 “St. John’s is investing in the latest, state-of-the-art medical equipment that allows us to screen for, diagnose, prevent and treat illness in the utmost efficient manner,” said Dr. Donald Morrish, St. John’s chief medical officer. “We work diligently to ensure that our community members do not have to travel far to receive quality health care.”