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Steven Simanowitz, new manager and community liaison for Roosevelt Island’s Urgent Care Center, located at 520 Main Street, is on a mission to make the center a more integral part of the community.
“We don’t want to be another business here. We want to be part of everything that goes on,” says Simanowitz. “We want to be here for the Island, whatever the needs may be, around health, prevention, and illness.”
At the moment, says Simanowitz, a large number of patients who come in to the center are there for flu symptoms. “We definitely have seen a large uptick in flu cases this season, compared to previous years. There is an epidemic right now all throughout the country.”
According to the New York Department of Health, more than 7,000 people statewide have been hospitalized for flu symptoms this season, most of them within the last month. More than 4,000 of those cases were seniors. Simanowitz advises Islanders, “When you start feeling any flu-like symptoms – whether fever, chills, runny nose, body aches, fatigue, nausea, or vomiting – come in right away to get checked out.”
But Simanowitz says his group also believes strongly in preventative care and envisions a deeper connection with the Island. For example, the group has been working with Roosevelt Island Residents’ Association representative Sharon Williams, who offers hands-free CPR training, donating an infant dummy for training. “We are planning on doing all types of courses in conjunction with [RIRA],” says brand manager Yaakov Landau.
Simanowitz is seeking input from the community as to what other needs there are. Kamin Health, which runs the Urgent Care Center, operates five facilities and is opening up a sixth, its second Brooklyn location, soon.
At their Crown Heights location, Simanowitz says the group purchased lead testing equipment after a report was published exposing the City public housing authority’s failure to conduct lead paint testing in its apartment units. “Anybody who comes into that location is getting lead testing,” he says. “If their insurance doesn’t cover that test, they get it free of charge. That is ongoing now.” He says Kamin Health hopes to expand the free testing in that area to offsite locations like youth centers and schools, thanks to a partnership with Jesse Hamilton, the State senator for that area.
“Each facility is dependant on its specific community,” says Simanowitz. He’s looking to tailor its engagement to the needs we have here.
“Roosevelt Island is a very interesting place,” he says of his new neighborhood. “It’s phenomenal. I am born and raised in Queens. I’m a city boy. When I was a teenager, I’d be on the subway and see that stop, Roosevelt Island; I never knew what it was.” Now that he’s spent actual time here he says he loves it. “It’s an escape from the reality of city life, but it’s in New York City. It’s like a little town in the middle of Nebraska. Everybody knows each other, everyone knows what’s going on. That’s what we want to be a part of.”
As a longtime volunteer EMT, Simanowitz says he fell in love with the medical world. He sees urgent care as a “mini hospital, or mini ER, without the wait time.” They do strep tests, flu tests, stitches, blood work, they have an EKG machine, and most weekdays they have an X-ray technician. “If you’ve been here before, we ask for your name and birthday; you’re in a room in two to three minutes,” Simanowitz says. “If it’s your first time and you have to register, it will take 10-15 minutes.”
However, he urges anyone with life-threatening symptoms to go directly to the hospital. “Our medical professionals here are phenomenal at knowing when they can do something, and when you have to be in a hospital,” he says. “We will call an ambulance and make sure you get to a hospital.”