Tag Archives: New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation

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.

Why is Colorectal Cancer in the News?


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Dr-Margaret-KemenyW

By Margaret Kemeny, M.D.

Director, Cancer Center, Queens Hospital Center

You may have heard about the efforts of celebrities like Katie Couric and Ozzy Osbourne to promote colon cancer prevention during March, which is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Since colon cancer is the number two leading cause of cancer deaths in America, many organizations and individuals participate in activities that help educate and motivate an understanding of this disease.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colon cancer usually begins as one or more tiny growths, called polyps, in the colon or rectum. If not removed, these polyps may turn into cancer.

What is Queens Hospital Center doing about colorectal cancer?

In 2011, we provided 1,412 colonoscopies and treated 50 patients for colorectal cancer. We also make sure that when they turn 50, every employee receives a birthday card that also reminds them about the need to get screened. Further information, videos, links and brochures are available on our web site at http://www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/html/feature/coloncancer.shtml.

We at Queens Hospital Center have started the first comprehensive cancer center in the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) system. We can offer state-of-the-art treatment for colorectal cancer, which includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. We also have a specialized center for liver metastases from colorectal cancer. We can offer liver surgery, hepatic artery pump chemotherapy, radiofrequency ablation of the tumors and more.

Can anything be done about colorectal cancer?

Yes. A colonoscopy is an exam performed by a gastroenterologist or surgeon where the lining of the rectum and colon are examined for the presence of polyps or other abnormalities.

Studies have shown that it can take about 10 years from the development of a polyp to the progression into a cancer. If these polyps are detected early and removed, these cancers can be prevented. If a colorectal cancer does develop, removal of the cancer at an early stage, before the cancer has had the chance to spread to other tissues or organs, can increase the likelihood of a cure.

In fact, just last month, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a 20-year study done in New York City which showed that colon cancer screening with colonoscopy, including the removal of the lesions that can develop into cancer, reduced the death rate from colon cancer by more than 50 percent.

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

Both men and women are at risk. Colon cancer occurs most often in people 50 years of age and older, and the risk increases as you get older. A family history of colon cancer may also increase your risk for this disease. People at high risk for colon cancer may need to get tested more often and at an earlier age.

Is colon cancer preventable?

Yes. Removing growths early can prevent cancer. If cancer already exists, screening tests can find it early when it’s easier to treat. Everyone 50 years of age or older should have regular colon cancer screening tests.

What are the signs of colorectal cancer?

People who have polyps or colon cancer usually don’t have signs of it, especially in the early stages. That’s why having regular screening tests is so important! However anyone with rectal bleeding should be screened.

How do I get screened?

Colon cancer screening is available at all HHC public hospitals at little or no cost. If you don’t have insurance or can’t afford medical care, you may qualify for HHC Options. Visit our web site, www.nychhc.org, to find an HHC hospital near you.