BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
After months of back and forth, the doors to the last-remaining immunization walk-in clinic in Queens will remain open, despite plans to shut it down by the end of the month.
The push to close the Corona Health Center came after a series of cuts made by the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene last year, but elected officials and District Council 37, the largest public employee union in the City, stood behind the community by pressuring the City to keep the clinic open.
According to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2015, the clinic will remain open because the new budget restores $4.1 million in FY 2014 funding and $4.8 million in FY 2015 funding cut in the previous administration’s November modification plan.
A DOH spokesperson confirmed immunization services at the Corona Health Center will not be ending at the end of the month, which provides free and low-cost vaccinations for children over four-years-old, teens and adults, including Flu, Meningitis, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and more.
Judith Arroyo, president of Local 436 United Federation of Nurses and Epidemiologists, said they are happy to hear their efforts to keep both the Corona and Tremont health clinic in the Bronx have been worthwhile.
“We are aware that in the budget that Mayor Bill de Blasio put out, that he has every intention of keeping those clinics open and restoring the staffing level,” she said.
Since the 2015 budget goes into effect July 1, Arroyo said they need to inquire what the DOH’s budget will look like from February until the last day of June.
“We are now asking for information to find out exactly what is happening, but this is good news for the Bronx and Queens,” she said. “We had always made it very clear that our members did not lose their jobs. This was truly about the community because we were concerned about how it would affect the children and the families.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said it was not right for former Mayor Bloomberg to try to close down the Borough’s only City run clinic in Queens.
“Residents, including children who are required to have certain shots before attending school, need to have access to these services,” he said.
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) also applauded de Blasio for stepping up and delivering for this growing community.
“It administered nearly 33,000 vaccines last year to close to 16,000 clients, though it was open only twice a week” he said.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.