2011-11-18 / Top Stories

Addabbo Seeks City’s Help

Looking To EDC For Deal On Adjoining Land
By Howard Schwach

The Addabbo Family Health Center is looking to two city agencies for assistance in moving its children’s day treatment program in the wake of an ultimatum by the Peninsula Hospital Center’s CEO to move the program by the first of the year.

For ten years, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center on Beach 62 Street has been running a children’s day treatment program in space rented from Peninsula Hospital Center at its Beach 51 Street facility.

Now, however, the new management of the hospital center wants the program out, and has demanded that the school, which services 16 emotionally handicapped students with seven staff members, be out of the hospital by January 1.

Dr. Peter Nelson, CEO of the Health Center, argued that it is impossible to find a new site and get all the necessary permits to move the school by the deadline.

“In order to move the program I would have to find a spot, renovate it, write a Certificate of Need to the NYS Department of Health, write a Scope of Change to a number of city agencies, including the Department of Education and the Department of Mental Health, have the space inspected and approved and get an operating certificate from both the city and the state. That will take minimally six to eight months, and probably longer. Then, we have to relocate kids, who need a very structured environment, in a very short period of time. Structure and stability are as much a part of their therapy as their psychological counseling. It can’t be done.”

Liz Sulik, the hospital’s Director of External Affairs, however, issued the following statement to The Wave when the issue first arose in early November.

“The Addabbo Family Health Center and Peninsula Hospital Center have enjoyed a very long-standing and collaborative relationship for many years. We certainly want this relationship to remain very solid as we all move forward.

“However, the Hospital Center is in the process of restructuring and expeditiously moving forward. We are currently making plans to expand our Emergency Department services and very simply, we are in need of the space in the building that Addabbo currently occupies to proceed. When requesting the return of the space from Dr. Peter Nelson, Executive Director at Addabbo, we carefully considered our valued relationship and the time that the organization may need to relocate its program and acted with the utmost of concern.

“We wish the Addabbo Family Health Center every continued success in their programs and future endeavors.

Nelson sees two possibilities for moving the program and he outlined them for The Wave this week.

“The best option would be to place the day school in trailers on the empty land adjacent to our building on Beach 62 Street,” Nelson says. “That land is owned by the city’s Economic Development Corporation, and the city wants us to rent it from them. We need a low price, but the city wants to get far more for the land, because it needs money to fight the fiscal crisis.”

If Nelson could get the land cheap, he says, he can rent trailers for about $11 a square foot in which to run the program. That is, if he can get the land at a low price.

His other option is to rent space at nearby PS 42, a public school on Beach 66 Street, which has just constructed a brand new building.

“It’s a heavy lift, because the school has been pushing back against our request to rent space in the building,” Nelson says. “While the school says that it can’t have an outside program in the building, the Department of Mental Health says the school system does it all the time.”

Nelson says angrily that he is not going to put the kids who are presently in the program out on the street.”

“PHC says we have to be out by January 1, but we will only do so if we have a place to run the program.”

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