Mount Sinai Hospital Expansion Moves Forward After Sucessful Vote

By Jeanmarie Evelly on June 19, 2013 5:24pm 

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 Plans would build a 6-story expansion at the Astoria medical center, to open in 2016.
Mount Sinai Queens Plans to Expand
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ASTORIA — Plans to expand Mount Sinai Queens are moving forward, as Queens Community Board 1 voted in favor of the hospital's proposal at their monthly meeting Tuesday night.

The medical center is asking the city's Board of Standards and Appeals for zoning variances to build a 6-story building behind its current facility at 25-10 30th Ave.

The $125 million project would increase Mount Sinai Queens' emergency department by five times its current size, expand the size of its operating room and allow the hospital to hire 40 new physicians, according to CEO Caryn Schwab.

"We'll finally have an environment in which we can take care of you, not just clinically in an excellent way, but in terms of space and privacy," she said at Tuesday's meeting.

Schwab says the Queens hospital has seen its resources stretched in recent years because of population growth in the area, paired with the closing of several other prominent hospitals — Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway, St. John's Hospital in East Elmhurst and St. Mary's Hospital in Jamaica, among others.

"Western queens is growing, and at the same time we’ve lost five hospitals over the last six or seven years," Schwab said.

CB1 voted in favor of the hospital's application, though the vote is only advisory — the final decision is in the hands of the BSA.

But the board included some stipulations in its recommendation, including requests that the hospital address several concerns from neighbors who live nearby, including worries over parking and construction noise.

"I'm having nightmares about the next three years," said one woman, who said she lives next to the hospital on 30th Road.

Schwab said the hospital has taken neighbors' worries into account, in part by building a driveway for ambulances in order to keep the vehicles from crowding neighboring residential streets.

Hospital officials said they also plan to hold community meetings with neighbors every few months during the construction to hear out concerns and problems.

Daniel Peterson, a candidate for Astoria's City Council seat who lives next to the hospital, said he has some concerns about construction but thinks the expansion is needed.

He saw Mount Sinai's overcrowding problem firsthand when he was admitted for appendicitis earlier this year and was forced to wait in the hallway because there weren't enough rooms, he said.

"Having a new state-of-the-art hospital would be a good thing for the community," he said.

Costa Constantinides, another City Council candidate, agreed.

"The emergency room at Mount Sinai can't keep up. In the end this is a huge win for this neighborhood — we need this hospital," he said.

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