It’s been quite a journey for one of Brooklyn’s most venerable medical facilities. Now NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island has marked a significant milestone in its remarkable recovery following the devastation it endured in the wake of Superstorm Sandy as it prepares to raise the final beam atop its new, state-of-the-art building.
On Thursday, Feb. 27 the hospital held a beam-signing ceremony, allowing everyone who had anything to do with the hospital’s renewed success to leave his or her mark on the white beam that will top off the flood resistant, 11-story tower. While the high winds kept the beam from being raised and placed atop the structure that morning, it did not dampen the spirits of the hundreds who showed for the signing.
The hospital’s new CEO Svetlana Lipyanskaya welcomed guests. She was joined by Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals and retired Coney Island Hospital CEO Arthur Wagner.
“It has been more than seven years since Superstorm Sandy really devastated South Brooklyn and this area,” said Lipyanskaya. “It took a long time and a lot of dedication from many people who are here with us today — from the elected officials, from hospital leadership and from many, many advocates, but ultimately federal funding for a brand-new, stronger and more resilient hospital building was secured. That’s why we’re here today.”
The new 350,000-square foot-building was funded by FEMA and will include a new elevated Emergency Department, a surgical suite with eight operating rooms and a full suite of diagnostic and imaging services. The work on the building began in September 2018 with a projected completion date of 2022.
Katz said that Coney Island Hospital had a special place in his heart. “This is the hospital that my family used,” said Katz. “We lived about a mile north of here on Ocean Avenue between W and X. My family’s relationship to Coney Island goes back, not to my grandparents, but to my great grandmother, who was taken to Coney Island Hospital with a hip fracture. So, it’s a multi-generational connection that I have to this great hospital, and I’m just so pleased that we’re going to have a building that’s as great as the people who work in it,” Katz added.
Emergency Medicine Program Director Dr. Michael Radeos presented Lipyanskaya and the hospital with a proclamation from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams recognizing Oct. 24 as Coney Island Hospital Drug Awareness Team Day. “One of the latest things we’re involved in that’s going to be a big help to the community to help improve the opioid epidemic is addiction medicine,” Radeos said.
Department of Medicine Chair Dr. Kenneth Hupart made reference to the hospital having survived Superstorm Sandy when he remarked, “This steel is going up but this is more than a building. It represents a commitment from government, from New York City, that come hell or high water, Coney Island Hospital will be here to care for the patients in the surrounding communities.”
Coney Island Hospital Chief Medical Officer Terence Brady offered a brief history. “Coney Island Hospital initially opened as a first-aid station in 1875. And this was never more evident than on the night of Oct. 29, 2012, when Superstorm Sandy caused widespread destruction to the tri-state area but most importantly to Southern Brooklyn. Ocean Parkway truly became an ocean that night and the ocean was in Coney Island Hospital.”
Brady called the hospital a beacon of safety during that time, with members of the community coming to seek shelter.
Lipyanskaya referred to the facility as a new resilient, hurricane-proof hospital. “We are the front door of health care in this community. We’ve always been here, we’re always going to be here and we’re just thrilled that we’re going to have a new facility where we can provide state-of-the-art care for all our patients,” Lipyanskaya told this paper.