2002-02-02 / Community

‘Only 30 Percent Of The Community Has Adequate Health Insurance’ --Dr. Peter Nelson

‘Only 30 Percent Of The Community
Has Adequate Health Insurance’
--Dr. Peter Nelson

Many Rockaway residents have a problem with getting access to quality health care.

It is not a lack of good doctors or of a lack of knowledge that medical treatment is necessary, although the latter often plays a part.

It is more often the fact that medical treatment and medicines are expensive and less than a third of those living on the peninsula have adequate medical insurance.

About one-third of the people in Rockaway are on Medicaid" says Dr. Peter Nelson, the head of the Addabbo Family Health Center. "They are our poorest residents."

"About forty percent of Rockaway’s population has no health insurance at all, because they are not poor enough to get Medicaid, and their employers do not provide medical insurance."

"Only about 30 percent of the community has adequate health insurance," he adds.

Those facts contribute to medical statistics that are among the worst in the city.

The fact is that Rockaway has the highest rates of diabetes, HIV-Aids, asthma and low birth-weight babies in New York City.

Nelson and the others who work for him at Addabbo and at Peninsula Hospital Center, however, hope to do something to change the equation.

"The Addabbo Health Center is trying to respond to that human suffering with health care for the working poor," Nelson told an audience at the Beach Club last Monday. They were gathered to take a look at the plans for the new Addabbo Health Center, a "state-of-the-art medical facility that is planned for 6200 Beach Channel Drive.

Addabbo has to find a new home, because its old one on Rockaway Beach Boulevard will soon be taken over by the developers of the Arverne By The Sea project.

Addabbo has a "sliding fee scale," that allows fees for those who come to the center to amount to from $25 to $155.

"The top fee of $155 is what is costs us to do what is necessary for a typical patient. That is what it costs us. We can charge less because we have a federally-funded $1.3 million grant designed to assist the working poor to get medical attention."

"We can provide tremendous care to those 40,000 people who do not have health insurance," Nelson told the crowd. "It is unfortunate that we don’t see most of those 40,000 at the center."

Nelson and his staff are now trying to raise the funds necessary to make the move to the new building.

"This is going to be a major fundraising drive," Nelson says. "We see 12,000 different patients in 48,000 visits yearly. We have been helping the community. Now, we need their help."

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