MOTT HAVEN — Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the South Bronx on Thursday to celebrate the grand opening of a new family health center that aims to serve about 10,000 people in the borough.
The Damian Family Care Center, located at 2604 Third Ave., aims to provide health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay and will offer services including primary, dental and mental health care. A pharmacy is also located on-site.
"This is an amazing, amazing center, and it’s going to make a profound impact on the health care of the people of The Bronx," de Blasio said. "And it’s going to help people not have to go to the emergency room and seek urgent care because they can get the primary and preventative care they need here."
The center opened as part of the city's Caring Neighborhoods initiative, which is meant to create and expand health care centers throughout the city.
The site should be able to treat roughly 10,000 patients and handle up to 120,000 visits annually, according to Damian Family Care Centers President and CEO Peter Grisafi.
"We’re excited to provide that excellent health care at little to no cost to the patient or regardless of a patient’s ability to pay," he said. "Receiving quality health care should not be a privilege. It should be a right."
De Blasio took a tour of the center on Thursday with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and asked about its ability to treat asthma, one of the biggest health concerns in the South Bronx.
While Grisafi said the center did not have an allergist on staff to deal with asthma concerns, their doctors could diagnose the ailment and either handle it or refer the patient out to a specialist. He noted they were currently building relationships with specialists in the area.
Healthcare is the top employer in New York City, providing about 515,500 jobs, according to the mayor's office.
Robin DeSisso, a community resident and patient at the facility, praised the center for treating her like a human being instead of just a chart.
"It’s not just about, 'Oh, this is what’s wrong? OK, see you later, bye,'" she said. "They let me know that they care. They sit there with me, not five, 10 minutes, and I've got to get out. They sit there with me if it takes a half an hour, if it takes 45 minutes."