Tag Archives: Elmhurst Hospital Center

Family, friends share memories of victims killed in Astoria creek accident


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The four young passengers who died when their car plunged into an Astoria creek after a birthday celebration were always smiling and looking toward the future, their friends and families recalled.

Jada Monique Butts, 19, was a loving person who enjoyed laughing, smiling and having fun, said Tiani Martin, her best friend of more than 10 years. One of five children, the Borough of Manhattan Community College student wanted to one day work behind the scenes in the music industry.

“She was a beautiful spirit and loved to stay positive,” Martin said. “We did everything together and she will live on.”

Butts was one of four East Elmhurst friends who died on April 4 when their Honda Accord rolled over into Steinway Creek in Astoria.

“She was my little right-hand woman,” said Paula Slader, Butts’ mother.

Another passenger was 20-year-old Jaleel Feurtado, who had the dream to play professional basketball after shining bright on the Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School basketball team, remembered his family. Feurtado was an only child and was the eldest of the family’s grandchildren.

“He was a good kid,” said one of his relatives, who wanted to remain unnamed. “He was the apple of our eyes, everyone just loved him.”

Darius Fletcher, 21, and Crystal Gravely, 19, also lost their lives in the accident. Gravely would have celebrated her 20th birthday the following day.

The driver, 20-year-old Andrew Gramm, was traveling at 60 mph when he decided to make a U-turn on the wet road, according to reports. Once the vehicle went into the water, reportedly 8 feet deep, Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, cops said, but his four friends were still inside the car when authorities arrived.

FDNY divers then extracted Fletcher, Butts, Gravely and Feurtado, who were later pronounced dead, according to police.

Gramm was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, police said.

The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is still looking into the accident and one politician has called for a review of safety measures on the various roads leading to the water.

 

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Probe continues into fatal Astoria crash as loved ones mourn victims


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos via Facebook

Police are continuing the investigation into an accident that killed four friends after their car plunged into an Astoria creek as one politician calls for a review of safety measures on roads leading to the water.

A Honda Accord carrying four passengers and a driver was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street about 10:40 p.m. Friday when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek, police said.

The driver, identified in reports as 20-year-old Andrew Gramm, was traveling at 60 mph when he decided to make a u-turn on the wet road, according to reports. Once the vehicle went into the water, reportedly 8-feet deep, Gramm managed to escape the vehicle and call for help, cops said, but four people were still inside the car when authorities arrived.

FDNY divers then extracted the passengers, Darius Fletcher, 21, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Feurtado, 20, all from East Elmhurst, according to police.

The women and one of the men were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where they were pronounced dead, officials said. The second man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was also pronounced deceased.

Gravely would have celebrated her 20th birthday on Saturday, reports said.

Gramm was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, according to police.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is still looking into the accident.

On Facebook, family and friends are mourning the loss of the four young lives through posts and photos.

“Speechless…The only reason I can cope with this is trusting and knowing if God took these kids from us it’s because God has plans for them. Just a tough pill to swallow,” wrote Kay Roberts on Saturday together with a photo of the four friends.

Vernon Feurtado, who according to Facebook posts is one of the victim’s fathers, remembered his son, Jaleel, through photos of the two together.

Senator Michael Gianaris is now calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a review of safety measures on the various roads, including 19th Avenue, which lead to the water. According to the senator, reports of the crash have created questions about the chain-link fence that is supposed to serve as a barricade between the street and the creek. There is also not sufficient signage specifying that the street becomes a dead end.

“As our community deals with this tragic accident, we must work together to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future,” Gianaris said. “DOT must make our streets safer by reviewing all roads leading to waterways as there may be similar dangers in other neighborhoods throughout our city. This accident was avoidable, and something must be done to keep people safe as they drive, walk or cycle on our roadways.”

A DOT spokesman said  the agency had installed an “END” sign where 19th Avenue terminates and two highly visible “Dead End” signs at the intersection last October and which were in place at the time of the accident.


Photo Courtesy of the Department of Transportation

Early Saturday afternoon the DOT also secured the area with jersey barriers and barrels, and also replaced the “END” sign. The spokesman said the agency will be looking into the report of a section of the guiderail missing, even though a preliminary review does not point to any recent reports on the missing section. The DOT will also review condition at streets ending near water.

 

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Four dead after car plunges into Astoria creek


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos via Facebook

Updated 2:30 p.m.

Four people are dead after their car went into an Astoria creek Friday night, according to the NYPD.

A Honda Accord, driven by a 20-year-old man, was traveling on 19th Avenue near 37th Street about 10:40 p.m. when it hit the curb and rolled over into Steinway Creek, police said.

The driver managed to escape the vehicle, cops said, but  four people were still inside the car when authorities arrived. FDNY divers then extracted the passengers,  Darius Fletcher,21, Jada Monique Butts, 19, Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleel Furtado, 20, all from East Elmhurst, according to police.

The women and one of the men were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where they were pronounced dead, officials said. The second man was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he was also pronounced deceased.

The 20-year-old driver was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where he is currently listed in stable condition, police said. He was given a preliminary breath test where results showed he was sober during the time of the accident, according to police.

The NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is looking into the accident.

 

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Elmhurst Hospital celebrates opening of new Women’s Pavilion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Elmhurst Hospital Center has opened the doors to more health care access for the women of Queens.

The hospital celebrated the grand opening of its new 17,370-square-foot outpatient healthcare facility, the Women’s Pavilion.

The $16.3 million Women’s Pavilion, located adjacent to the hospital’s main building at 78-20 41st Ave., is expected to expand the access to prenatal and complete obstetrical services for the women in the borough.

“I’m extremely thankful to call this hospital our own in our borough,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “A women’s health care pavilion is sorely needed in this borough, we need to make sure that women are comfortable going in for health care, asking any questions they possibly have.”

The site, which is expected to start accepting patient June 1, will bring 15 percent greater capacity in patient volume and allow 5 percent annual growth in service capacity over a 5-year period, according to Chris Constantino, senior vice president of the Health and Hospital Corporation Queens Health Network.

“What this pavilion means for the women of New York City and the women of this district is priceless,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras. “This space here is allowing for a safe haven, just the same type of safe haven we want to give our children.”

Some of the women’s health services offered include walk-in pregnancy testing, prenatal care, HIV counseling and testing, genetic counseling, high-risk pregnancy and postpartum services.

The new two-story facility features 18 exam rooms and two reception areas. There will also be space offered for childbirth, breastfeeding, nutrition and diabetes education classes.

“This is just another step in the journey to excellence,” former Councilwoman Helen Sears said.

 

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Op-ed: A test that could save your life


| oped@queenscourier.com

JOSHUA S. ARON, MD

The word cancer is scary, unsettling and leaves people feeling helpless. Add colon cancer and the stakes intensify. According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Here in New York City the disease kills approximately 1,400 people every year.

As a gastroenterologist for the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), I can tell you that colon cancer is highly curable if caught early. It’s also one of the few cancers for which an effective screening – a colonoscopy – is available. But not enough people are getting screened. Many people are unaware of their risks for colon cancer; some have specific concerns or fears about colonoscopy or screening tests, and others are afraid of the results of such tests. Education and an open discussion with your doctor is the best form of protection from colon cancer.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and HHC is urging anyone approaching or over age 50 to make sure their next stop is a colonoscopy. A common procedure, a colonoscopy, can identify precancerous growths called polyps in your colon and remove them before they turn into cancer. Colonoscopies are recommended for adults at least every 10 years, and those with a family history of the disease should ask their doctor about getting screened earlier and more often. While colonoscopies are the gold standard to identify and remove colon polyps before they become cancerous, there are other colon cancer screening tests available.  Ask your doctor which is best for you. Keep in mind symptoms of colon cancer don’t always present themselves. The majority of polyps, and in the several cases even cancers, do not cause any symptoms at all. If symptoms do appear, they may include constant abdominal pain, blood in the stool and a change in bowel habits and fatigue from anemia.

There are simple health tips everyone can follow to minimize their risk of colon cancer:

  • Get screened for colon cancer
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Know your family history
  • Eat a balanced diet high in fiber and leafy green vegetables
  • Limit alcohol consumption and don’t smoke
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about colon cancer

Colonoscopies are available at all 11 NYC public hospitals regardless of ability to pay. New Yorkers who want more information about preventing colon cancer should call 311 or visit nyc.gov/hhc.

Joshua S. Aron, MD is a gastroenterologist at Elmhurst Hospital Center

 

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Jackson Heights filmmaker celebrates 50th anniversary of Beatles visit with short film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Celeste Balducci

Just in time for the 50th celebration of The Beatles’ visit to New York, one Jackson Heights filmmaker takes a local look at the Fab Four’s American debut.

Lovely Lily,” a short film created by filmmaker Celeste Balducci, debuted on Sunday, Feb. 9 at the Elmhurst Hospital Center Auditorium during a Beatles Bash party.

The movie takes place in 1964 and surrounds a “has-been” lounge singer at the Cavalier Restaurant in Jackson Heights just hours before The Beatles took the stage on the Ed Sullivan Show, and changed music history.

The story involves social and historical attributes of that day, and includes various props and costumes from that time period. It also includes the concept of love lost and found between five other characters,  Balducci said.

“We forget that The Beatles went toe to toe with The Supremes that year for number one hits, the civil rights movement was building momentum and the United States had just begun its tour in Vietnam, but most importantly, the country was still mourning a great tragedy – the assassination of JFK,” she said. “When we recall The Beatles and all the great music from that time, we remember the good times. That is what I hope the audience will take away from seeing ‘Lovely Lily.’ It is my love song to a bygone era.”

The film, which took 12 years to create, first premiered in 2009 as a full feature film, but after years of editing is now 36 minutes long. It features Jackson Heights actors, musicians and residents.

Balducci hopes to make “Lovely Lily” available for purchase and also enter it in upcoming film festivals.

To contact the filmmaker and be placed on the film’s mailing list to catch future screenings, email lovelylily1964@gmail.com.

 

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Parents welcome city’s first New Year’s baby at Elmhurst Hospital


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation

New York City‘s first New Year cry was heard through Elmhurst Hospital as Tenzin Choetso was welcomed into the world.

Tenzin was born to parents Metok Dolma and Choegyal Dorjee one second after midnight on Jan. 1 at Elmhurst Hospital Center. The couple, both from Tibet and now living in Woodside, reportedly also has another daughter.

The baby girl, weighing 6 pounds, 11 ounces, received a name given by the Dalai Lama, according to a hospital spokesperson. The parents put in a request to the Dalai Lama for the baby’s naming while Dolma was pregnant, and the Tibetan spiritual leader responded by giving the name Tenzin, meaning “to conquer the wisdom of Buddha,” the spokesperson said.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was given the name Tenzin Gyatso.

“We are thrilled and excited that one of the first babies of 2014 was born at Elmhurst,” said Chris Constantino, Elmhurst Hospital Center’s executive director. “Our staff is overjoyed.”

Tenzin Choetso is not Elmhurst Hospital’s first “New Year’s baby.” In 2013, at exactly midnight, another baby was born at the hospital.

 

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Woodside street co-named after beloved community member Lou Rispoli


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Louis Rispoli will always be remembered as a great husband, friend, mentor and important member of the Woodside community.

Rispoli, who was attacked in October 2012 in Sunnyside and died at Elmhurst Hospital Center days later, was honored and celebrated on July 27 during a ceremony to co-name 51st Street and 43rd Avenue “Louis Rispoli Way.”

“It’s so important to continuously recognize people who were special, people who were very important to our neighborhood, even if they weren’t famous,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, a friend of Rispoli and his husband. “Lou meant so much to 51st Street. Lou meant so much to Woodside.”

Family, friends and local officials gathered at John Downing Square, one of Rispoli’s favorite spots, located in front of the home he shared with his husband of 32 years, Danyal Lawson.

“Everyone knew him and they loved him,” said Lawson. “He loved it here and I know he would be so proud to see his name on the street. In some ways, since Lou moved to Queens, this has always been Louis Rispoli Way, but now everyone knows it.”

During the ceremony, two sisters who Rispoli mentored performed a duet and another girl sang the song from the couple’s wedding day.

Rispoli was known for making everyone laugh and bringing joy to the lives of those close to him. He met

Van Bramer at a house party several years ago and later volunteered with Van Bramer’s 2009 campaign for City Council.

He also enjoyed frequenting many local restaurants and stores including Nunziato’s Florist, whose owner knew both Rispoli and his husband for over 25 years.

“For 25 years it was never just Lou or just Danyal, it was Lou and Danyal, and that goes for today,” said Mike Gioia, owner of Nunziato’s Florist.

He provided an arrangement for the ceremony with the words “Everbest,” which was how Rispoli signed off in letters.

“Lou and Danyal is truly the Louis Rispoli Way,” Gioia added.

There have been no arrests in connection with Rispoli’s death and the investigation is ongoing.

“This shows to Lou, who is up there, but also to the world, that we’ll never forget him,” said Van Bramer.

“We’ll never rest, we’ll never stop fighting for justice for Louis Rispoli.”

 

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Translator busted for scamming patients


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

A Korean-speaking translator’s scheme was snuffed out when he was caught conning Elmhurst Hospital Center’s non-English speaking patients.

The man, whose identity has not yet been released, charged $240 for translation and interpretation assistance – services generally provided for free by the hospital.

“Accurate language translation and interpretation services reduce medical errors and increase the patient’s ability to participate fully in important health care decisions,” said hospital spokesperson Atiya Butler.

The translating trickster was found out by a staff member who alerted New York City Health and Hospitals Police, telling them a patient had been asked to cough up a fee for help with obtaining a health insurance card.

Hospital police issued the perpetrator a summons for criminal trespassing. Officials from Elmhurst Hospital Center would not specify how long the individual has been swindling patients.

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) annually serves 1.3 million patients, speaking more than 100 languages.

According to Butler, during the 2011 fiscal year, Elmhurst Hospital provided more than 115,000 translations in 89 different languages. The complimentary service includes round-the-clock telephone interpreters, fluent in more than 100 languages, and in-person translators.

Multilingual signs posted throughout the hospital read “free interpreter services.” Additional information, including “I speak” cards and orientation videos, is distributed to incoming patients.

“We provide various translation services, including selected bilingual and multilingual staff and volunteers who get specialized medical interpretation training tailored to their professional needs,” said Butler.

Antonio Meloni, executive director at Immigration Advocacy Services in Astoria, said certain ethnic groups perpetrate scams among their own. He said language and cultural familiarity make it easy for schemers to dupe people of similar backgrounds.

“They’re taking advantage of their own because it’s much easier to defraud someone because they think they’re your friend,” said Meloni. “The scammers are usually very good at what they do.”

Meloni, who has worked in the field for 23 years, said he has seen similar cases of fraud in the past.