Tag Archives: Health and Hospitals Corporation

Op-ed: A test that could save your life

| oped@queenscourier.com


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




Hillcrest residents fear proposed housing unit will endanger children

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

An overwhelming fear of the unknown is keeping Hillcrest residents from embracing a proposed housing unit set to lodge mental and chronic health patients in their community.

“There are too many people, too many variables and too many things that can go wrong,” said Ed Leahy of the Hillcrest Estate Civic Association.

A coalition of civic leaders and elected officials said they would roadblock Queens Hospital Center’s (QHC) bid to develop a deteriorated 10-story building on the hospital’s campus into affordable housing for low-income individuals and QHC patients with psychiatric diagnoses or chronic illnesses, including AIDS.

QHC is in talks with Comunilife, a nonprofit human services agency, to build 251 units in the “T-Building” at 82-68 164th Street, The Courier first reported last December.

But civic leaders said the “questionable population” could put children at nearby schools in danger.

“I empathize with mental illness and AIDS patients. I do. But you must understand that my job is the safety of those little children,” said Judy Henry, principal of Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School.

Residents cited the December 14, 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut as a cause for concern. The teen who massacred 26 children and adults was reportedly diagnosed as mentally ill.

“An ‘I told you so’ will never bring back a child after an incident has occurred,” said Maria DeInnocentiis, chair of the Utopia Estates Civic Association.

QHC and Comunilife officials said only “appropriate” residents would be picked to live in the development. Registered sex offenders and those who exhibit violent behavior would be screened out. Residents would also be assigned caseworkers and monitored all day, they said.

“The individuals who would be residing in the apartments that we’re proposing are the very same individuals who are coming every day already on the campus,” said LaRay Brown, senior vice president of corporate planning for the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC).

Casandra Cox, a Bronx Comunilife resident diagnosed with major depression and anxiety, said she fears residents are blinded by a stigma against the mentally ill.

“I lost everything. Comunilife has been a lifesaver for me,” said Cox, 69. “People don’t understand. They all think what happened in Connecticut is going to happen here. We’re not a threat to the community.”