2007-08-17 / Community

Seniors Continue Plea For Return of Psychiatrist

Service Cut At DSSM Harms Elderly: Ombudsman
By Howard Schwach

An ombudsman working at the office of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum has chided the president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation for removing psychiatric services from the DSSM Health Care facility on Beach 102 Street in Rockaway Park.

"One does not have to be a health care specialist to recognize the hardship placed on these seniors and their relatives, which manifests itself in their missing those appointments because of the need to travel to providers," wrote Ralph Perfetto, the ombudsman, to Alan Aviles, the president of the city's HHC.

For many years, the Rockaway Park facility had the services of an itinerant consulting psychologist who would work with patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's and other problems necessitating medication.

Up until last year, Dr. Ronald Brenner filled that position. At that time, however, Brenner's services were abruptly withdrawn by the HHC and the patients had to travel, often long distances, to other health care facilities for their treatment.

One of the 35 patients harmed by the service cut was 102-year-old Rose Kaplan, who once was treated at the Neponsit Home and then at DSSM.

Kaplan's nephew, Arthur Geller, has been trying for a year to get the services restored. "For the past four months, I have been unsuccessful in getting our local politicians to get involved in restoring the psychiatric services," he said. "I have tried the mayor, the borough president, Joe Addabbo, everybody I could think of. I have had no response."

Geller hopes that the letter from Perfetto will get the services restored, but he has been disappointed before by the city's bureaucracy. "These 30 elderly patients have been deprived of a convenient, excellent psychiatric service right here in Rockaway," he said. "It's time to bring that back."

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