2014-04-04 / Top Stories

Neponsit Adult Day Center Still Not Home

By Dan Guarino

Nearly a year and half after the storm, the Neponsit Adult Day Health Care Center at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 102nd Street is still closed. Photo by Dan Guarino Nearly a year and half after the storm, the Neponsit Adult Day Health Care Center at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 102nd Street is still closed. Photo by Dan Guarino “Every time we pass there, we see the big bin. It’s just sitting there,” Noelia Morales said, speaking about the Neponsit Adult Day Health Care program site at Beach 105th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Heavily damaged during the hurricane, the building it was housed in has largely been rebuilt. Other businesses there have returned.

The ADHC program, displaced since the storm, has not.

David Paller, president of the ADHC Registrant Council, says this has created an intolerable situation.

“There have been three due dates (for the program to move back to its Rockaway home),” he said, “and they have all passed by: April, October and December 2013.”

“The last due date was the beginning of March. Every time it’s a different story,” he said.

Since the storm destroyed their regular facility, the Neponsit ADHC operations have been transferred to the Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at 594 Albany Avenue in Brooklyn.

According to some registrants all of whom are seniors, the prolonged displacement, travel and ongoing delays have proven to be a great hardship.

Paller and three others, Noelia Morales, Margaret Sullivan and Arlene Webman, contacted The Wave to talk about the difficulties.

Each has been with the program anywhere from 4 to 10 years. All shared newspaper clippings and stories of happier times at the center in Rockaway. They also talked about the current hardships they are living with.

About the long trip to Brooklyn, Sullivan commented, “I live in Far Rockaway. I get outside at 7:30 a.m. Then we have to pick up other people.”

“We have to spend about an hour and a half to get there,” Webman said. “They start picking up people at 7 in the morning. We get there around 9 a.m.”

“It’s been very hard this winter and temperatures around zero degrees,” Morales added.

She added, “When I go to the new center the bus jumps. It’s hurting my back. I am now taking more medications for that and for stress.”

They are also dealing with being squeezed in with another program and being away from routine and familiar surroundings.

Paller stated that stress, high blood pressure, and other physical conditions have taken their toll.

“There’s roughly a hundred of us—- but as time goes on more and more of us are having a hard time.” In a letter to Health and Hospitals President Alan Aviles, Paller asserted “four people had to be hospitalized, after the rides, for high blood pressure and trauma.” NYC’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) oversees the program. as well as that of DSSM McKinney. Though they have written letters and even started a petition, the seniors say they have not received a satisfactory explanation as to why they have not moved back already.

They point out that other businesses are back in operation in the one story structure at 230 Beach 102nd Street.

“Three weeks, a month after the storm,” Paller said, “the building was back and open for business as if nothing happened. Anybody could legitimately take a year to get things back together and up to code. But that year has come and gone,” he said. “It’s like we don’t exist.”

When contacted about the situation, an HHC spokesperson responded with the following statement.

“HHC is fully committed to continuing services for those participating in the Neponsit Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) program, and to returning the program to the location that was damaged by Sandy,” he wrote.

“As a healthcare facility, construction and repairs have to follow unusually strict guidelines that guarantee safety for the patients and staff, as well as access to essential equipment and services. We are working closely with the building owner to make the necessary repairs and to restock the facility with the proper equipment and supplies. We expect that patients will be able to return by late spring or early summer.

“In the interim, HHC has accommodated the program participants at an alternate location in Brooklyn that hosts another ADHC program, and transportation has been provided. Neponsit ADHC staff have also maintained contact with patients who did not go to the alternate location, and in many cases are providing services to those patients including home visits and assisting them in obtaining services from other providers.”

For the registrants, they are still looking for that final, firm date when they can stop being displaced persons and move back ‘home.’

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