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From Roosevelt Island to Harlem, USA

Residents and staff of the recently-opened Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital embrace their new bustling community, views of the Mid-town skyline, and convenient public transit to welcome more visitors.

Edna Frese is paralyzed from a bacterial infection. She likes looking out the windows at the street life below and being part of a bustling community again.

Robert Cunningham, who lost the use of his arms and legs after a vacation diving accident nine years ago, loves the energy of the city and is excited to welcome more visitors.

Frese and Cunningham are two of 228 residents, whose ages range from the 30’s to more than 100 years old, who recently made the move from the aging Goldwater Hospital building on Roosevelt Island to the new Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital in East Harlem in a two-day operation that was a well orchestrated marvel of logistics, including the transport of more than 100 critically ill patients who rely on ventilators. Click here to learn more about the move.

“The new dining rooms are beautiful and the living rooms, too,” Frese, 57, said.

“Everything is clean and new. And when the weather is warmer, I’ll be able to go a few blocks to 125th Street with an escort in my motorized wheelchair to see the new shops that I’ve read about.”

Cunningham, 54, a former make-up artist, who had worked in television and film in Manhattan before his disabling spinal-cord injury, became attached to his Roosevelt Island home and the people who worked there. But since moving in late November to HHC’s newest long-term care hospital, he has welcomed his return to Manhattan and is pleased to see so many of the same staff.

“I am surprised at how much I like being in the city, the energy,” Cunningham said. “As a person in a wheelchair, I had a lot of independence at Coler-Goldwater, but I’m very excited to be back and I’ve had more visitors in the last two weeks than in the last 6 months.”

Cunningham’s room faces the Midtown skyline. He said he feels proud to welcome guests to the modern, airy facility with its private and semi-private rooms, wood paneling, large windows with lots of natural light, and flat-screen televisions.

Director of Nursing Stanlee Richards, who has worked for HHC at Coler-Goldwater for more than 45 years and helped oversee the move, says the patients and staff are adjusting to their brand new home. The new facility boasts open recreational areas and views, convenient public transportation and state-of-the art equipment specially designed to assist people with physical disabilities. Richards says everyone loves the electronic fireplaces, which lend ambience to public lounge areas.

“It is quite a change,” Ms. Richards said. “Patient quality-of-life improves because they can move independently. Also, the new ventilators we have, and the chairs we provide for residents so they can get up without using their hands, makes life better for the patients.”

Staff members also are benefitting from the move.

“The improvement in the equipment makes things easier for staff,” Ms. Richards said, including ceiling lifts for bariatric patients. “It saves your back.”

While some residents miss the freedom to move around the grounds on Goldwater, which was built in 1939 and was increasingly in disrepair, the new 400,000 square-foot facility at 1752 Park Avenue features an open area with benches on Madison Avenue on the former North General Hospital campus, and faces Marcus Garvey Park, which many Carter residents are looking forward to use in the warmer months.

There are two separate facilities for skilled nursing and long-term acute care at the new $285 million Henry J. Carter facility, with a combined 365 beds for long-term acute and skilled nursing care.

Felicia Davis, a medical surgical technician, said of the new place, “It is lovely. It’s a good change,” while acknowledging her new commute takes some getting used to.

The former assistant editor of a bibliographical journal says she likes looking out the windows of her new room at the street life below and being part of a bustling community again. She also likes the elegant dining hall and computer station, and is looking forward to chatting with her daughter in Puerto Rico on Facebook.

“I always dream that I am walking around the city,” she says, adding that being in Manhattan again is almost like having a dream come true.


January 2014

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HHC 2014 Stats

  • Staffed Beds: 6,684
  • Clinic Visits: 4,472,960
  • ER Visits: 1,179,436
  • Discharges: 205,791
  • Births: 18,564
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