A Coney Island health center has weathered the storm.
Coney Island Hospital, which is run under the auspices of the city’s Health & Hospitals Corporation (HHC) held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, July 15 to celebrate the reopening of the Ida G. Israel Community Center, a facility originally located at 2201 Neptune Avenue before it was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
A severe thunderstorm couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of attendees, including elected officials, Coney Island Hospital staff and nearly 30 members of Ida Israel’s family. Israel was a longtime Coney resident and community leader who played an integral role in bringing the health center to the neighborhood.
“Although Superstorm Sandy destroyed the original home of our beloved health center, it did not destroy the spirit which the center represented,” said Associate Executive Director of Public Affairs Nicole Francois, who also served as the morning’s master of ceremonies. “We will continue to rebuild and meet the health care needs of the health care communities it serves.”
The new facility, located at 2925 West 19th Street, was built with the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which contributed $7.5 million in resiliency funds.
“We knew we’d rebuild and it was our goal to build a new center as close as possible to the former one, to provide access for patients. This new site is less than half a mile from the old site,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Offer for HHC Antonio Martin. “I’m psyched to finally see this occur. This is so long overdue.”
The lack of a building did not mean a lack of medical services, Martin added. While the new center was being rebuilt, temporary service was provided through a mobile medical van at West 30th Street and Mermaid Avenue. “In the interim, Coney Island did a remarkable job providing services throughout the use of mobile vans and expanded hours,” Martin said, adding that precautions have been taken to prevent a similar problem. ““It may not be visible but the new center is raised on a concrete base to FEMA standards to avoid damage from potential future storms.”
Family members made their way to the podium to express their gratitude that the building will retain its original name. “We were so grateful that you came and rebuilt this clinic that my grandmother was so dedicated and passionate about making happen,” said Susan Gold, Israel’s granddaughter. “We adored her. She was passionate about Coney Island and the community it serves. We are thrilled her name remains.”
“This is only part of the Ida Israel family,” said Israel’s son, George. “The family is this community and the people in it that she genuinely loved and cared about. That’s why she could accomplish what she did.”
CIH personnel are excited about the future. Dr. Lana Vardanian, medical director of ambulatory care services, said, “We will try to offer the same services as we’ve provided before, like family services, dental, pediatric, adult care. We are looking to expand into an education center for the community.”
The official opening of the center is slated for late August.